A closer look into the KSA TP landscape: PwC’s survey

A closer look into the KSA TP landscape: PwC’s survey
A closer look into the KSA TP landscape: PwC’s survey

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - RIYADH — The TP landscape has changed and evolved significantly in the last 12 months. The combination of extensive new compliance requirements, a refresh of business models (also necessitated by COVID-19) and TP controversies means that today, TP in the Middle East is no longer a tax related afterthought, but instead it has become a fundamental pillar of tax and business strategy for most groups.

In the last year, we have seen key developments in the region, mainly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman. To assess these changes and their impact on businesses, PwC has conducted a survey of over 120 finance and tax professionals globally who deal with a taxable presence for their businesses in the Middle East in positions ranging from tax managers to C-suite executives in various industries. 53% of respondents work in organizations headquartered in the Middle East, 20% in Europe and 17% in North America. The survey took place between February and June 2020 taking into account views on COVID-19’s impact on TP.

The results reflect the fact that 93% of businesses feel that TP as a concept is either important or very important to their group; and although, 81% of respondents prepare TP documentation, the approach used varies significantly. Additionally, 53% of respondents expect there to be some changes to their TP policies or the introduction of new transactions due to COVID-19.

Taking a closer look on the responses from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 60% of respondents said their experience of complying with the recent KSA TP By-Laws are in line with expectations or less time consuming than expected. This is positive news for taxpayers in the Kingdom as the new TP rules not only bought in three tier documentation requirements, but also a requirement to disclose all related party transactions as well as have a TP certification by a licensed auditor.

When asked to rank what changes businesses would like to see in the KSA TP regulations or areas where further guidance was required, the top 3 responses were:

• Specific guidance from GAZT on risk indicators when entities are chosen for audit or further information on the audit selection process;

• Relaxation of the TP certification requirement; and

• The extension of the time limit for submission of the related party transactions disclosure form and the TP certification

Mohamed Serokh, PwC tax partner & Middle East transfer pricing leader, PwC Middle East, said: “In 2020, businesses across the region, as the rest of the world, are trying to navigate uncertainty and adapt to a new normal and the subject of TP now plays an integral part of this process from a finance, tax and ultimately business perspective.”

New & updated substance and TP regulations in the Middle East, with added pressures from the economic impact of COVID-19 as well as understanding new global developments, translates to the need for TP functions to prioritise TP actions accordingly. This is a great opportunity for businesses to revisit their TP processes to ensure that TP arrangements are underpinned by well defined and implemented processes, where TP technology is expected to play a critical part. — SG

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