In 2014, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) introduced simplified transfer pricing rules, particularly beneficial for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These rules encompass small taxpayers, distributors, intra-group services, and low-level inbound loans.
The ATO emphasizes the importance of aligning documentation complexity with the level of tax risk and the size of international related party transactions.
To gain penalty protection, businesses must maintain records that establish a Reasonably Arguable Position (RAP) as a final document by the date of their tax return lodgment, due on July 15. Various documentation, including Country-by-Country reports, master files, local files, and CbC reports, must be submitted within specific deadlines, often online in XML Schema format.
Businesses may voluntarily create transfer pricing documentation, providing details of comparables and transfer pricing policies to demonstrate compliance with the arm’s length principle beyond basic statutory requirements.
Typically, documentation needs to be submitted to the ATO only when an ATO transfer pricing documentation review is notified, preceding a potential audit. When the ATO requests transfer pricing documentation, the taxpayer usually has 28 days to submit it, and extensions are granted rarely.
The statute of limitations for assessing transfer pricing adjustments is 7 years. This is an improvement from the era before 2013 when there was no statute of limitations for TP modifications. However, some double tax treaties may limit the adjustment period.
Documentation must be in English or easily convertible into English when requested by the ATO. Additionally, each entity within a multinational group tax resident in Australia must include specific information in their Master File/Local File, as per ATO requirements.
Maintaining transfer pricing documentation that aligns with related party transactions and arm’s length principles is strongly recommended for tax return lodgment. Penalties for incomplete or late filing can range from AUD 26,640 to AUD 555,000, depending on the nature of the offense and the time delay.