Argentina vs Molinos Río de la Plata S.A., September 2021, Supreme Court, Case No CAF 1351/2014/1/RH1

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In 2003 Molinos Argentina had incorporated Molinos Chile under the modality of an “investment platform company” regulated by Article 41 D of the Chilean Income Tax Law.

Molinos Argentina owned 99.99% of the shares issued by Molinos Chile, and had integrated the share capital of the latter through the transfer of the majority shareholdings of three Uruguayan companies and one Peruvian company.

Molinos Argentina declared the dividends originating from the shares of the three Uruguayan companies and the Peruvian company controlled by Molinos Chile as non-taxable income by application of article 11 of the DTA between Argentina and Chile.

On that factual basis, the tax authorities applied the principle of economic reality established in article 2 of Law 11.683 (t.o. 1998 and its amendments) and considered that Molinos Argentina had abused the DTA by using the Chilean holding company as a “conduit company” to divert the collection of dividends from the shares of the Uruguayan and Peruvian companies to Chilean jurisdiction, in order to avoid paying income tax in Argentina and similar income tax in Chile at the same time.

The non-taxation in Argentina was due to the application of article 11 in the DTA which established that dividends were only taxed by the country in which the company distributing them was domiciled (in the case of Chile, because Molinos Chile was domiciled in Chile) and the non-taxation in Chile was verified – in turn – because the dividends originated in the Uruguayan and Peruvian companies did not pay income tax in that country because they were profits from investment platform companies which “will not be considered domiciled in Chile, so they will be taxed in the country only for Chilean source income”.

The tax authorities considered that the incorporation of the holding company in Chile by Molinos Argentina was not justified from the point of view of the corporate structure, since it had no real economic link with the Uruguayan and Peruvian companies and lacked economic substance or business purpose, since the dividends distributed by those companies did not remain in Molinos Chile but was used as an intermediary to remit those profits almost immediately to Molinos Argentina. It was constituted with the sole purpose of eliminating the taxation and to conduct the income obtained in states that are not party to the DTA -Uruguay and Peru- through the State with which the double taxation treaty has been concluded and using the benefits offered by the latter.

Judgement of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s ruled in favor of the tax authorities.

Molinos’s conduct was not protected by the rules of the DTA. International standards must be interpreted in accordance with the principle of good faith.

The conclusions reached by the National Tax Court and the National Chamber of Appeals in Federal Administrative Litigation was not seen as unreasonable or devoid of Foundation according to the doctrine of arbitrariness.


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Argentina FALLO CAF 001351_2014_CS001

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