Cabot Transfer Pricing

The Resale Price Method03 June 2024

The Resale Price Method

The resale price method is mainly used by companies whose operational profile includes marketing and distribution activities. This method is used to assess compliance with the market value principle in transactions for the purchase and resale of goods, especially where the buyer-reseller does not add significant value to the goods by processing them or by using intangible assets such as trademarks.

The resale price method starts from the price at which a product, originally purchased from an affiliated company, is resold to an independent company. This resale price is then adjusted by an appropriate gross margin, called the “resale price margin.” This margin represents the amount from which the reseller (the last seller within the group) covers its selling expenses and other operating expenses according to the operations carried out, taking into account the assets used and the risks assumed, with the aim of obtaining an appropriate profit. Thus, the market price for the transfer of the good between affiliated companies is the price that remains after deducting the margin and after adjusting for other costs associated with the purchase of the product.

Therefore, in the resale price methodology, the resale price margin earned in a controlled transaction is compared to the gross margin generated by comparable but uncontrolled transactions.

In some cases, the resale price margin in a controlled transaction may be determined by reference to the resale price margin that the same reseller obtains for products purchased and sold in comparable uncontrolled transactions, known as “internal comparables”.

In other situations, particularly when there is no internal comparative data available, a relevant indicator may be the resale price margin obtained by an independent company in similar uncontrolled transactions known as “external comparables”.

When determining the value of the resale price margin, a number of important factors are taken into account, such as factors related to the time interval between the initial purchase and resale, changes in the market in terms of expenses, exchange rates and inflation, changes in the condition and degree of wear and tear of the traded goods, including changes due to technological progress in a certain field, the exclusive right of the reseller to trade certain goods or rights, which could influence the decision on the adjustment of the price margin.

If the reseller in the controlled transaction does not carry out a significant commercial activity, but only transfers the goods to a third party, the resale price margin could be reduced, given the limited functions performed by it. On the other hand, where the reseller is clearly involved in significant commercial activity alongside the resale process, the resale price margin is expected to be considerably higher.

In the situation where the reseller involves assets of significant value in its activities (for example – high value intangible marketing assets), it may be considered inappropriate to assess arm’s length conditions in the controlled transaction using an unadjusted resale price margin derived from the transactions uncontrolled in which the uncontrolled reseller does not commit similar assets, as the resale price margin in the uncontrolled transaction may underestimate the profit to which the reseller is entitled in the controlled transaction.

The existence of a chain of distribution of goods through an intermediary company involves the analysis of the resale price of the goods purchased from the intermediary company, but also the price that such a company pays to its suppliers and the functions that the intermediary company performs. When accounting regulations or practices differ between controlled and uncontrolled transactions, adjustments must be made to the data used in the calculation of resale price margins to ensure that the same types of costs are used in the gross margin calculation method.

It is essential to adapt the methodology to the specifics of each transaction to avoid undervaluation or overvaluation of prices and to ensure compliance with tax rules and financial reporting principles.

This method assumes a high degree of comparability of the cost base, which in practice is not possible due to the fact that there is no information on the cost of goods sold in the databases used for transfer pricing analysis. Moreover, even if such information could be obtained, accounting regulations are different in various jurisdictions and even in the same jurisdiction it is not possible to verify the correct application of accounting regulations, i.e. the correct classification of expenses as directly allocable to goods sold or the operational activity of the entity.

Laura Bîrleanu

Junior Transfer Pricing Consultant


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