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Transfer Price


Transfer price is a cost concept used typically by multi-departmental or multinational companies for internal transactions between company units or subsidiaries. It’s the price one unit of a business charges another for goods or services they exchange, offering a measure for performance. These prices impact the income allocation among the different company parts and may affect the company’s overall tax obligation.


The phonetics of the keyword “Transfer Price” would be: /ˈtræns.fɚ ˈpraɪs/

Key Takeaways

1. Definition and Purpose: Transfer pricing refers to the costs incurred when goods and services are sold between divisions within the same organization. This helps in managing the affairs of each division, embedding a sense of accountability and control for each segment’s performance.

2. Implication on Taxes: Transfer pricing can significantly impact an organization’s overall tax obligations since prices affect the profitability of business segments located in different tax jurisdictions. It is hence regulated by tax authorities to prevent revenue erosion and profit shifting.

3. Impact on Profit Allocation: Transfer pricing determines how profit is allocated between different parts of the organization. This influences division performance evaluation, behavior of division managers and resource allocation decisions within a company. It needs to be set at an optimal level to ensure fairness and efficiency.


The term “Transfer Price” holds significance in business/finance as it pertains to the cost associated with the exchange of goods or services between different departments or subsidiaries of the same company. This term is crucial as it impacts the financial results of each division, affecting the overall performance and profit margins of the entire company. Additionally, transfer pricing plays a vital role in tax strategies, as a company can set these prices in a way to minimize the overall tax burden across different countries. Therefore, proper management of transfer pricing is essential to optimize internal trade, motivate divisional performance, manage cash flows, and effectively minimize taxation liabilities, thereby directly impacting the company’s bottom line.


Transfer pricing primarily serves an integral role in the operational and financial structure of multinational corporations. Its purpose is to determine the cost that is charged when goods, services or intellectual property are exchanged between individual entities of a multi-entity organization, usually across different tax jurisdictions. For instance, if a corporation has subsidiaries in Country A with low tax rates and Country B with high tax rates, they may manipulate the transfer price to shift profits to Country A, thereby minimizing their overall tax burden. It is therefore a powerful tool in profit maximization and tax optimization strategies employed by businesses working in various tax jurisdictions.On the other hand, transfer pricing is also used for promoting strategic business objectives. For instance, it can be useful for evaluating the economic performance of different company divisions, creating a competitive internal market, and enhancing motivation and effort among divisions. However, it needs to be set accurately to reflect the true values of the transactions; otherwise, it can lead to distorted performance measurements. It’s important to note that such practices are highly regulated and scrutinized by national and international tax authorities to ensure corporations adhere to tax laws and regulations.


1. Manufacturing and Distribution: Imagine a multinational corporation that manufactures electronic gadgets. The component parts are produced in a factory in China, then transferred to an assembly factory in Mexico, and finally, the finished products are sold in the USA. The prices at which the parts are sold from the China factory to the Mexico one are called transfer prices. These prices impact the profit margins of each part of the company.2. Oil Industry: In the oil industry, crude oil is often extracted in one location, refined in another, and sold in various regionally dispersed markets. Each time the oil changes hands within the company (from extraction, refining, to distribution), a transfer price is set. This affects the tax liabilities of each subsidiary and the overall profit of the company. 3. Pharmaceutical Companies: For example, a pharmaceutical corporation has its research and development department in Germany, production center in India, and sales unit in the US. The internal sale of formulas from the research department to production and then the finished medicines to the sales unit would each have transfer prices set by the corporation. These prices would affect income allocations in each country and thus their respective tax liabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Transfer Price?

Transfer price is the cost set by the selling division or company for goods and services it sells to the buying division within the same company. It is the price used when individual entities of a larger multi-entity firm are responsible for their own profits and losses.

Why is transfer pricing important?

Transfer pricing is crucial for two reasons. First, it impacts the allocation of a company’s total profit between different countries and regions for tax purposes. Second, in companies with separate divisions, it affects how the profits and losses are distributed amongst these divisions.

How does transfer pricing affect taxes?

Since transfer pricing affects the allocation of profits among different parts of the company, it also affects where those profits are taxed. If transfer prices are set in a way that shifts profits to countries with lower tax rates, it can significantly reduce a company’s overall tax bill.

Is transfer pricing legal?

Yes, transfer pricing in itself is legal. However, it can be illegal if used to purposefully avoid paying taxes, a practice known as transfer mispricing or abusive transfer pricing.

What are the methods of transfer pricing?

Generally, five accepted methods are used. These include the Comparable Uncontrolled Price (CUP), Resale Price Method (RPM), Cost Plus Method (CPM), Transactional Net Margin Method (TNMM), and Transactional Profit Split Method (PSM).

What are the risks associated with transfer pricing?

Risks can include double taxation if countries don’t agree on pricing, adjustments leading to increased tax and penalties, and damage to a company’s reputation if they are seen to be using transfer pricing aggressively to avoid tax.

How can transfer pricing disputes be resolved?

Many countries have procedures in place to resolve transfer pricing disputes, including mutual agreement procedures (MAPs), advanced pricing agreements (APAs), and litigation. In many cases, documentation requirements are put in place to prove that transfer pricing is being done in compliance with arm’s length principles.

What is arm’s length principle in transfer pricing?

The arm’s length principle is the condition that the amount charged by one related party to another for a product, service, or use of property must be the same as if the parties were not related. This principle is crucial in transfer pricing regulations to ensure fairness and avoid tax evasion.

Related Finance Terms

  • Arm’s Length Principle
  • Cost Allocation
  • Intercompany Transactions
  • Profit Margin
  • Transfer Price Manipulation

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