Global transfer pricing cases are up almost 15% compared to 2019, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) 2020 mutual agreement procedure (MAP) report. The OECD's report, which covers MAP caseloads in 118 jurisdictions, noted that Canada ended 2020 with a slightly higher inventory of transfer pricing cases because it opened more new transfer pricing cases compared to the number of cases it resolved in 2020. The OECD noted that MAP cases have increased in most jurisdictions, which may require additional actions in the coming years.


Each year, the OECD releases statistics on the MAP caseloads of all its member countries, as well as participating non-OECD economies. This annual update is intended to improve and enhance the transparency of the MAP case process, in line with Action 14 of the OECD's BEPS Action Plan. The MAP statistics report measures the implementation of the minimum standard for resolving treaty-related disputes that was agreed to by the OECD and G20 countries.

MAP inventory

The OECD advised that around 2500 new cases were initiated in 2020, with the top 25 jurisdictions accounting for 95% of those cases. The OECD noted that this indicates that MAP cases remain very concentrated, with the remaining cases involving approximately 40 other jurisdictions. The OECD highlighted that new transfer pricing cases were up by almost 15% compared to 2019, but the number of new other cases decreased slightly by 2%.

The OECD also advised that approximately 5% fewer MAP cases were closed in 2020 than in 2019 due to COVID-19. The OECD stated that this decrease is mainly due to 12% fewer other cases being closed, even though 6% more transfer pricing cases closed in 2020. The OECD said that MAP inventories have still increased in most jurisdictions, which may require additional actions in the coming years.


The OECD said it still took a long time to resolve transfer pricing cases in 2020, taking approximately 35 months to close these cases (up from 31 months in 2019), and approximately 18 months to close other cases (down from 22 months in 2019). The OECD stated that some jurisdictions experienced delays for more complex cases, and the COVID-19 crisis affected communication with some treaty partners. The OECD also found that approximately 15% of the 2020 end inventory relates to cases pending for at least five years.


The OECD noted that around 75% of MAP cases concluded in 2020 fully resolved the issue for both transfer pricing cases (down from 85% in 2019) and other cases (up from 71% in 2019). Approximately 3% of MAP cases were closed without the competent authorities finding a mutual agreement (up from 2% in 2019). In addition, taxpayers withdrew from nearly double the cases in 2020 compared to 2019 (11% compared to 6%).

Spotlight on Canada

The OECD report stated that Canada opened 55 new transfer pricing cases in 2020 and closed 47 of its cases started as of January 1, 2016, with an average resolution time of just over 19 months (up from 14 months average time in 2019). The report also found that Canada closed five more of its 11 outstanding transfer pricing cases started before January 1, 2016 with an average resolution time of just over 57 months (down from 65 months average time in 2019). As a result, Canada ended 2020 with an overall inventory of 126 transfer pricing cases (up from 124 at the end of 2019).

Canada resolved most of its transfer pricing cases (63%) by fully eliminating double taxation (or fully resolving that the taxation was not in accordance with a tax treaty). Several other cases were resolved by granting unilateral relief (6%) or by domestic remedy (4%). Similar to the global trend, taxpayers withdrew more cases from the program in 2020 compared to 2019 (11% compared to 7%). Overall, the United States still has the largest number of transfer pricing cases with Canada, both opened and closed.


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