Transfer pricing operational guidance: Evidence gathering: Searching for comparables
The OECD Guidelines, at paragraph 3.4, provide a suggested nine-step process which can be followed when searching for comparables. The Guidelines say that the approach is good practice but not compulsory. The process is reproduced below:
Step 1: Determination of years to be covered.
Step 2: Broad-based analysis of the taxpayer’s circumstances.
Step 3: Understanding the controlled transaction(s) under examination, based in particular on a functional analysis, in order to choose the tested party (where needed), the most appropriate transfer pricing method to the circumstances of the case, the financial indicator that will be tested (in the case of a transactional profit method), and to identify the significant comparability factors that should be taken into account.
Step 4: Review of existing internal comparables, if any.
Step 5: Determination of available sources of information on external comparables where such external comparables are needed taking into account their relative reliability.
Step 6: Selection of the most appropriate transfer pricing method and, depending on the method, determination of the relevant financial indicator (e.g. determination of the relevant net profit indicator in case of a transactional net margin method).
Step 7: Identification of potential comparables: determining the key characteristics to be met by any uncontrolled transaction in order to be regarded as potentially comparable, based on the relevant factors identified in Step 3.
Step 8: Determination of and making comparability adjustments where appropriate.
Step 9: Interpretation and use of data collected, determination of the arm’s length remuneration.