Close this search box.

What Are the 5 Methods of Transfer Pricing

Transfer pricing is a vital aspect of multinational business operations, ensuring that transactions between affiliated companies occur at fair market value. 


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) sets guidelines for transfer pricing, requiring companies to select a method that best approximates fair market value.   


In this article, we will explore the five essential methods of transfer pricing and their relevance in business operations. We will also discuss how these methods apply to transfer pricing in Malaysia and the importance of accounting services in Malaysia for multinational corporations.


Understanding Transfer Pricing Methods

Choosing the appropriate transfer pricing method is a strategic decision for businesses. These methods help determine the prices for transactions between related entities within a corporation. Additionally, they are essential when negotiating advance pricing agreements (APAs). 


To make informed choices, organizations often use transfer pricing tools and resources to identify the most suitable method for their needs.


1. Comparable Uncontrolled Price (CUP) Method

The Comparable Uncontrolled Price (CUP) method establishes prices by comparing them to similar transactions between unrelated third parties.


When reliable data on comparable uncontrolled prices exists, the CUP method is highly dependable and challenging to dispute. However, finding such comparable transactions can be a daunting task, as even minor variations can affect comparability.

2. Resale Minus Method

The Resale Minus method bases transfer pricing on the resale price of a product or asset sold to an unrelated third party. 


This price is then adjusted by subtracting the gross margin and any additional associated costs. The resulting figure serves as the arm’s-length price for intercompany transactions.


3. Transactional Net Margin Method (TNMM)

coins at the graph background

When precise transaction data is unavailable, the Transactional Net Margin Method (TNMM) uses net profits from similar controlled transactions to establish transfer pricing for comparable uncontrolled transactions. 


This method offers flexibility when it comes to identifying suitable transactions for comparison.


4. Cost Plus Method

When market prices aren’t readily available, companies can turn to the Cost Plus method. This approach calculates a fair transfer price by adding a standard profit margin to the standard cost of delivering goods or services. 


The Cost Plus method is particularly useful for determining prices when no direct market price reference exists.


5. Profit Split Method

The Profit Split method comes into play when two entities collaborate on a project in a manner that makes it challenging to evaluate each party individually. 


Instead, this method considers the profitability or potential profitability of the venture and devises a fair way to split profits between the entities involved.


Applying Transfer Pricing Methods in Malaysia

In Malaysia, as in many other countries, adherence to OECD transfer pricing guidelines is necessary. The Malaysian government has its own set of transfer pricing regulations, which align with the international standards set by the OECD. 


When engaging in transfer pricing in Malaysia, businesses must ensure compliance with both sets of guidelines to avoid any disputes with tax authorities.

The Role of Accounting Services in Malaysia

Multinational corporations operating in Malaysia often rely on specialized accounting services to overcome the complexities of transfer pricing.


These services offer valuable expertise in interpreting and applying transfer pricing regulations, ensuring that businesses maintain transparency and compliance.


By working with accounting services in Malaysia, corporations can effectively manage their transfer pricing strategies while minimizing the risk of disputes with tax authorities.

Challenges in Transfer Pricing

While understanding the transfer pricing methods and regulations is essential, businesses also face several challenges in implementing effective transfer pricing strategies. These challenges often revolve around the following:


1. Adapting to Changing Regulations

Transfer pricing regulations are not static; they evolve over time in response to changing global economic conditions. Staying up-to-date with these regulations is vital to avoid compliance issues and potential disputes. 


Furthermore, businesses must adapt their transfer pricing strategies to align with new regulatory requirements.

outsource transfer pricing

2. Transfer Pricing Documentation

Documentation is a crucial component of transfer pricing. Many tax authorities, including those in Malaysia, require detailed documentation to support the chosen transfer pricing method. 


This documentation must demonstrate that the pricing is consistent with the arm’s length principle and provide evidence to support the chosen method.

3. Gathering Accurate Data

One of the fundamental challenges in transfer pricing is gathering accurate data for benchmarking. To determine if a controlled transaction is priced at arm’s length, companies need to find comparable transactions between unrelated parties.


However, finding these matches can be complex, particularly when dealing with unique products or services.

4. Consistency Across Jurisdictions

Multinational corporations operate in various jurisdictions, each with its own set of transfer pricing regulations. Ensuring consistency across these jurisdictions can be challenging.


What is considered an acceptable transfer pricing method in one country might not be viewed the same way in another. This inconsistency can lead to disputes with tax authorities and requires careful consideration when implementing transfer pricing strategies.

In Summary

Understanding the various methods of transfer pricing is essential for multinational corporations seeking to establish fair market values for transactions between affiliated entities. 


Regardless of which method is used, businesses must carefully select the most appropriate method for their specific circumstances. 


In Malaysia, adherence to both OECD and local transfer pricing regulations is important, and engaging an accounting service in Malaysia can greatly assist in ensuring compliance and effective transfer pricing management.