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Transfer Pricing in Malaysia: Understanding the Role of Intangible Assets

In Malaysia, transfer pricing regulations are necessary for ensuring fair transactions among related entities. Adhering to these regulations, especially concerning intangible assets, is important for businesses operating within the country. 

This article explores the complexities of transfer pricing in Malaysia, focusing on the role of intangible assets and the recent changes in transfer pricing rules.

About Transfer Pricing in Malaysia

In Malaysia, transfer pricing operates based on the arm’s length principle, which ensures fairness in transactions between related parties. 


This principle mandates that transactions should occur at prices comparable to those between unrelated parties, promoting transparency and accountability in business dealings. 


Malaysia adheres to guidelines from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to define controlled and uncontrolled transactions based on party relationships.


The arm’s length principle is important in transfer pricing to prevent entities from artificially manipulating prices in related party transactions for tax advantages or profit manipulation. 


By requiring transactions to be conducted at arm’s length prices, Malaysia aims to ensure fair profit allocation among related entities and proper taxation in the locations where economic activities occur.

Methods for Determining Arm's Length Price

asking questions to accountant about tax

Several methods, including the comparable uncontrolled price method, resale price method, and cost plus method, are used to ascertain the arm’s length price. 


The choice of method depends on the nature of the transaction and its comparability with uncontrolled transactions in the market. 


Each method has its advantages and limitations, and businesses must carefully evaluate which method is most appropriate for their specific circumstances.


The comparable uncontrolled price method compares prices of similar transactions between unrelated parties to determine the arm’s length price. The resale price method calculates the gross margin earned by a reseller on a controlled product or service. 



The cost plus method adds an appropriate mark-up to the costs incurred by the seller to produce or purchase the controlled product or service.


Determining the arm’s length price is necessary for ensuring fairness and compliance with transfer pricing regulations in Malaysia. 


Businesses need to meticulously document their transfer pricing policies and methods to show adherence to the arm’s length principle and to provide justification for their pricing decisions when required by tax authorities.

Transfer Pricing Requirements in Malaysia

Companies exceeding specific revenue thresholds must prepare transfer pricing documentation, detailing related party transactions and financial assistance provided. 


Compliance with these requirements ensures transparency and accountability in business dealings and is essential for avoiding penalties. Documentation must cover organizational structure, pricing policies, financial information, and other relevant factors influencing pricing decisions to meet regulatory standards.


The Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRB) requires taxpayers to maintain simultaneous transfer pricing documentation, which means that the documentation must be prepared before the tax return due date and reflect the taxpayer’s pricing policies and methodologies at the time of the transaction. 


This requirement highlights the importance of proactive compliance and thorough documentation in transfer pricing matters.

New Transfer Pricing Rules in 2023

The Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRB) introduced new Transfer Pricing Rules in 2023, which increased documentation requirements and highlighted the need for accurately defining controlled transactions. 


These rules require the preparation of simultaneous transfer pricing documentation before the tax return due date, ensuring both timely compliance and a thorough analysis. Businesses must adapt to these rules to uphold transparency and comply with the evolving regulatory standards in Malaysia.


The new Transfer Pricing Rules introduce additional documentation requirements, including schedules detailing multinational enterprise group information, taxpayer business information, and cost contribution arrangement information and documents. 


These requirements aim to provide tax authorities with comprehensive information about taxpayers’ transfer pricing practices and ensure consistency in transfer pricing documentation across different jurisdictions.

Arm's Length Range and Comparability Analysis

The new rules bring in the idea of an “arm’s length range” to decide fair prices in controlled transactions. This range allows flexibility while staying in line with market prices, ensuring fairness in transfer pricing. 


The focus is on comparing transactions, accurately defining them, and considering relevant economic factors. This helps businesses set prices according to market conditions and Malaysian regulations.


The accuracy of this comparison depends on having reliable data about similar transactions and companies. Taxpayers need to carefully choose comparable companies, make adjustments for differences, and understand factors influencing pricing for a meaningful analysis and determining a fair price.

new transfer pricing guideline

Intangible Assets and DEMPE Analysis

The rules emphasize the significance of Development, Enhancement, Maintenance, Protection, and Exploitation (DEMPE) analysis for intangible assets. 


Those who contribute to the value of intangible property through these activities should receive fair compensation. This highlights the importance of accurate valuation and documentation. 


Actively participating in DEMPE activities is essential for stakeholders to justify their right to income from intangible assets according to Malaysian transfer pricing regulations.


Intangible assets are important in modern business, especially in industries like technology, pharmaceuticals, and entertainment. They often make up a significant part of a company’s value and need careful consideration in transfer pricing. 


DEMPE analysis helps businesses understand how different entities contribute to the development and exploitation of intangible assets, allowing for fair income allocation.

Practical Considerations and Next Steps

Taxpayers must adapt to the new rules by enhancing documentation processes and assessing operational conditions for material changes. Preparation of strong transfer pricing documentation is essential for compliance and risk mitigation, requiring collaboration with tax advisors and accounting services in Malaysia. 


Engaging with tax advisors can help businesses overcome the complexities of transfer pricing regulations and ensure adherence to guidelines while minimizing exposure to penalties.

In Summary


It is important for businesses in Malaysia to grasp the details of transfer pricing regulations, especially regarding intangible assets. Following guidelines and taking proactive steps to comply are essential for transparency and to avoid potential penalties in the changing regulatory environment. 


Staying updated on transfer pricing developments and seeking expert advice, such as accounting services in Malaysia when necessary enables businesses to overcome the complexities and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements in Malaysia.


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