The IRS guidance, Transfer Pricing Examination Process, Publication 5300 (TPEP), released in June 2018, is more relevant now than ever before. There is a broad consensus among transfer pricing and international tax practitioners that tax authorities around the globe will step up transfer pricing audit activity within the next year as a means to recoup lost tax revenue resulting from the pandemic-induced recession. Fortunately, for US-based entities in multinational enterprise (MNE) groups, the IRS has in recent years issued taxpayer guidance on how to prepare for transfer pricing examinations. This series of blog articles is structured to help tax executives quickly get up to speed with the IRS’s guidance on transfer pricing examinations and its expectations on documentation.
In this first installment we introduce the TPEP. The next three installments of this series highlight and summarize the essential aspects of the three TPEP Phases: Planning, Execution, and Resolution. Subsequent installments examine how the TPEP diverges from the Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, its predecessor guidance, and provide TPEP insights in the form of useful takeaways. Saving the best for last, the concluding article of this series will focus on the IRS’s most recent transfer pricing guidance, FAQs re Transfer Pricing Documentation Best Practices.
IRS transfer pricing examinations can be unpleasant experiences for taxpayers. Chances are, an international business in the U.S. – whether it is headquartered in the U.S., or a subsidiary of a foreign parent – is going to have its transfer pricing examined by the IRS at some point. Transfer pricing has been cited by IRS officials for years as one of their most important enforcement priorities. But as a direct result of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)1 project, tax authorities around the world are actively engaged in the process of revising and tightening their expectations and requirements with respect to transfer pricing. The prospect of thorough and detailed examinations of taxpayers’ transfer pricing positions is growing every day.