The changing face of transfer pricing dispute resolution in Australia

Thomas Ickeringill, Senior Associate in the Allens Tax Group is a chess player, a footy fan and can cook up a mean roast or curry. And when he’s not busy readying his home to welcome he and his wife’s first baby this October, he’s one of the tax experts with a keen eye on the transfer pricing space both here and overseas.

Ahead of our 2021 National Transfer Pricing Conference, where Thomas will be presenting as part of an expert line-up of speakers spanning the breadth of the transfer pricing landscape, we caught up with him to find out what to expect when we tune into his session this September.

“Martin Fry and I are presenting on the topic, 'A new phase in transfer pricing dispute resolution in Australia'. The session will cover, amongst other things, the increased attractiveness of MAP arising from the advent of international tax arbitration, the potentially increased attractiveness of domestic litigation following Glencore's recent victory in the Full Federal Court and the evolving face of transfer pricing controversy in Australia,” Thomas explained.

Delving a little deeper into the session and what he hopes delegates will take away, Thomas pointed out that there has been an enormous amount of change in the transfer pricing dispute resolution landscape in recent years, both on a domestic and international scale.

“At a domestic level, we have seen growing commentary from the courts on a range of issues, including the role of experts and lay witnesses in transfer pricing disputes, the interpretative relevance of the OECD Guidelines and the emphasis of pragmatism and commercial realism over economic theory,” he said.

“At an international level, we have seen the signing and ratification of the Multilateral instrument, which has heralded mandatory arbitration provisions in many double tax agreements. We have also seen a growing emphasis on dispute prevention over dispute resolution and may therefore expect more 'safe harbours' in the future.”

So why does this matter for tax practitioners? Well, these recent developments “are likely to have changed the decision-making calculus of multinational taxpayers in respect of their transfer pricing dispute resolution strategies,” Thomas explained.

In the session, delegates will learn about the practical impact of the changing dispute resolution landscape for them and their clients.

“We hope that this will support them in determining, for example, whether to concede or defend assertions, whether to settle or litigate disputes, whether (and when) to pursue MAP and how to ensure alignment with wider group transfer pricing strategies,” Thomas said.

Not-to-be-missed technical sessions

Looking at the program for the 2021 National Transfer Pricing Conference outside of his own session, Thomas said he’s particularly interested in attending technical transfer pricing sessions. Here are a few that he’ll be tuning into:

  • Session 7: Transfer pricing in perspective
    Facilitated by Jerome Tse, CTA King & Wood Mallesons
    Panel Members Daniel McInerney QC, CTA Victorian Bar and Damian Preshaw, CTA Damian Preshaw Consulting Pty Ltd
  • Session 8: The ATO’s intangibles strategy and draft PCG on intangibles
    Presented by Chris Ferguson, ATO
  • Session 9B: Provision of services or rights to use intangibles
    Presented by David Bond, CTA, Greenwoods
  • Session 10A: Transfer Pricing and the Application of Part IVA
    Presented by Toby Knight, CTA and Anfeng He, FTI, both from Allens

“I am also excited to hear about the OECD's progress on BEPS Pillars One and Two, particularly given the recent consensus reached by the G7 in London in June 2021,” Thomas added.

Catch Thomas at the 2021 National Transfer Pricing Conference this September in Melbourne or via our live online stream. Find out more about the event here.

About Thomas

Thomas Ickeringill, FTI, is a Senior Associate in the Allens Tax Group with significant tax experience in Australia and the UK. Tom has over 10 years’ experience as a tax adviser in Australia and the UK, with a particular specialisation in international taxation and transfer pricing. Tom has advised across a wide range of transfer pricing areas, including marketing and procurement hubs, the migration of intangibles, intragroup financing arrangements and complex business restructures. Tom has a MSc (Taxation) from the University of Oxford, graduating as the highest ranked student.


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