Category: Beneficial Owner

A person or company who enjoys the real benefits of ownership, even though the title to the property is in another name (conduit). Often important in tax treaties, as a resident of a tax treaty partner may be denied the benefits of certain reduced withholding tax rates if the beneficial owner of the dividends, royalties etc is resident of a third country.

France vs Société Planet, May 2022, Conseil d'État, Case No 444451

France vs Société Planet, May 2022, Conseil d’État, Case No 444451

In view of its purpose and the comments made on Article 12 of the OECD Model Convention, the Conseil d’État found that Article 12(2) of the Franco-New Zealand tax treaty was applicable to French source royalties whose beneficial owner resided in New Zealand, even if the royalties had been paid to an intermediary company established in a third country. The Supreme Court thus set aside the previous 2020 Judgement of the Administrative Court of Appeal. The question of whether the company in New Zealand actually qualified as the beneficial owner of the royalties for the years in question was referred to the Court of Appeal. Excerpt “1. It is clear from the documents in the file submitted to the judges of the court of first instance that the company Planet, which carries on the business of distributing sports programmes to fitness clubs, was subject to ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS, March 2021, High Court, Cases B-721-13

Denmark vs Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS, March 2021, High Court, Cases B-721-13

Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS, a subsidiary in the Heerema group, paid dividends to a parent company in Luxembourg which in turn paid the dividends to two group companies in Panama. The tax authorities found that the company in Luxembourg was not the beneficial owner of the dividends and thus the dividends were not covered by the tax exemption rules of the EU Parent/Subsidiary Directive or the Double Taxation Convention between Denmark and Luxembourg. On that basis an assessment was issued regarding payment of withholding tax on the dividends. An appeal was filed by Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS with the High Court. Judgement of the Eastern High Court The court dismissed the appeal of Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS and decided in favor of the tax authorities. The parent company in Luxembourg was a so-called “flow-through” company which was not the beneficial owner of ... Continue to full case
Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court set aside a tax assessment in which CBS International Netherlands B.V. had been denied reimbursement of withholding tax in the amount of BGN 156 830,27 related to royalties and license payments. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court. In the appeal the tax authorities held that the beneficial owner of the licence and royalty payments was not CBS International Netherlands B.V. but instead CBS CORPORATION, a company incorporated and domiciled in New York, USA. According to the tax authorities the main function of CBS International Netherlands B.V. was that of an intermediary between the end customers and the beneficial owner. This was further supported by the transfer pricing documentation, according to which the US company that bears the risk of the development activity, the market risk is borne equally by ... Continue to full case
Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

In 2011 Samsung signed the contract with Microsoft for use of software-patent in Android-based smartphone and tablets, and for the years 2012-2015 Samsung paid royalties to a Microsoft subsidiary, MS Licensing GP, while saving 15 percent for withholding tax. The royalties paid by Samsung to Microsoft during these years amounted to 4.35 trillion won, of which 15%, or 653.7 billion won, was paid as withholding tax. In June 2016, Microsoft filed a claim for a tax refund in a amount of 634 billion won with the Tax Office. According to Microsoft royalty paid for patent rights not registered in Korea is not domestic source income, and should not be subject to withholding tax. The request was refused by the tax authorities. Microsoft then filed a lawsuit against the tax authorities in 2017. Microsoft argued that the withholding tax imposed on income from a patent unregistered ... Continue to full case
France vs IKEA, February 2022, CAA of Versailles, No 19VE03571

France vs IKEA, February 2022, CAA of Versailles, No 19VE03571

Ikea France (SNC MIF) had concluded a franchise agreement with Inter Ikea Systems BV (IIS BV) in the Netherlands by virtue of which it benefited, in particular, as a franchisee, from the right to operate the ‘Ikea Retail System’ (the Ikea concept), the ‘Ikea Food System’ (food sales) and the ‘Ikea Proprietary Rights’ (the Ikea trade mark) in its shops. In return, Ikea France paid Inter Ikea Systems BV a franchise fee equal to 3% of the amount of net sales made in France, which amounted to EUR 68,276,633 and EUR 72,415,329 for FY 2010 and 2011. These royalties were subject to the withholding tax provided for in the provisions of Article 182 B of the French General Tax Code, but under the terms of Article 12 of the Convention between France and the Netherlands: “1. Royalties arising in one of the States and paid ... Continue to full case
Italy vs Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA , February 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 3380/2022

Italy vs Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA , February 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 3380/2022

Since Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA’s articles of association prevented it from issuing bonds, financing of the company had instead been archived via an arrangement with its subsidiary in Luxembourg, Mondadori International S.A. To that end, the subsidiary issued a bond in the amount of EUR 350 million, which was subscribed for by US investors. The funds raised were transferred to Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA via an interest-bearing loan. The terms of the loan – duration, interest rate and amount – were the same as those of the bond issued by Mondadori International S.A. to the US investors. The Italian tax authority denied the withholding tax exemption in regards of the interest paid on the loan. According to the tax authorities Mondadori International S.A. had received no benefit from the transaction. The interest paid by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA was immediately and fully transferred to the ... Continue to full case
Czech Republic vs Avon Cosmetics Ltd, February 2022, Municipal Court, Case No 6 Af 36/2020 - 42

Czech Republic vs Avon Cosmetics Ltd, February 2022, Municipal Court, Case No 6 Af 36/2020 – 42

In 2016 the British company Avon Cosmetics Limited (ACL) became the sole licensor of intellectual property rights for Europe, Africa and the Middle East within the Avon Cosmetics Group and was authorised to issue sub-licences to other group companies, including the Czech subsidiary, Avon Cosmetics spol. s r.o.. ACL charged a fee for issuing a sub-licence equal to an agreed-upon percentage of net sales but was then contractually obliged to pay a similar fee to the US companies, Avon Products Inc. and Avon Internetional Operations Inc. ACL applied for relief from WHT on the royalty payments from the Czech subsidiary. The tax authorities concluded that ACL was not the beneficial owner of the royalty income but only an conduit or intermediary. The legal conditions for granting the exemption were not met. ACL did not obtain any real benefit from the royalty fees and was not ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Alta Energy Luxembourg S.A.R.L., November 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 2021 SCC 49 - 2021-11-26

Canada vs Alta Energy Luxembourg S.A.R.L., November 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 2021 SCC 49 – 2021-11-26

ALTA Energy, a resident of Luxembourg, claimed an exemption from Canadian income tax under Article 13(5) of the Canada-Luxembourg Income Tax Treaty in respect of a large capital gain arising from the sale of shares of ALTA Canada, its wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary. At that time, Alta Canada carried on an unconventional shale oil business in the Duvernay shale oil formation situated in Northern Alberta. Alta Canada was granted the right to explore, drill and extract hydrocarbons from an area of the Duvernay formation designated under licenses granted by the government of Alberta. The Canadian tax authorities denied that the exemption applied and assessed ALTA Energy accordingly. Article 13(5) of the Canada-Luxembourg Tax Treaty is a distributive rule of last application. It applies only in the case where the capital gain is not otherwise taxable under paragraphs (1) to (4) of Article 13 of the Treaty ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Takeda A/S and NTC Parent S.a.r.l., November 2021, High Court, Cases B-2942-12 and B-171-13

Denmark vs Takeda A/S and NTC Parent S.a.r.l., November 2021, High Court, Cases B-2942-12 and B-171-13

The issue in these two cases is whether withholding tax was payable on interest paid to foreign group companies considered “beneficial owners” via conduit companies covered by the EU Interest/Royalties Directive and DTA’s exempting the payments from withholding taxes. The first case concerned interest accruals totalling approximately DKK 1,476 million made by a Danish company in the period 2007-2009 in favour of its parent company in Sweden in connection with an intra-group loan. The Danish Tax Authorities (SKAT) subsequently ruled that the recipients of the interest were subject to the tax liability in Section 2(1)(d) of the Corporation Tax Act and that the Danish company was therefore obliged to withhold and pay withholding tax on a total of approximately DKK 369 million. The Danish company brought the case before the courts, claiming principally that it was not obliged to withhold the amount collected by SKAT, ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs NETAPP ApS and TDC A/S, May 2021, High Court, Cases B-1980-12 and B-2173-12

Denmark vs NETAPP ApS and TDC A/S, May 2021, High Court, Cases B-1980-12 and B-2173-12

On 3 May 2021, the Danish High Court ruled in two “beneficial owner” cases concerning the question of whether withholding tax must be paid on dividends distributed by Danish subsidiaries to foreign parent companies. The first case – NETAPP Denmark ApS – concerned two dividend distributions of approx. 566 million DKK and approx. 92 million made in 2005 and 2006 by a Danish company to its parent company in Cyprus. The National Tax Court had upheld the Danish company in that the dividends were exempt from withholding tax pursuant to the Corporation Tax Act, section 2, subsection. 1, letter c, so that the company was not obliged to pay withholding tax. The Ministry of Taxation brought the case before the courts, claiming that the Danish company should include – and thus pay – withholding tax of a total of approx. 184 million kr. The second ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs "Share Owner/Lender", February 2021, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/01884

Netherlands vs “Share Owner/Lender”, February 2021, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/01884

The interested party bought AEX-listed shares, sold three-month futures based on those shares through its shareholder/broker [D], and lent the shares to [D] (stock lending). It received cash collateral ($ deposits as collateral) and a stock lending fee for its lending. According to the interested party, the shares always briefly reverted to its ownership around their dividend dates through registration in the interested party’s securities account with the French custodian bank on the basis of legal transactions between its shareholder [D] and it, represented by [D]. In dispute is the question whether the interested party is entitled to a set-off of € 39,249,246 in Dutch dividend tax withheld from the dividends on the shares lent by her. Did she receive the dividends (was she the beneficial owner?) and if so, was she also the ultimate beneficiary of the dividend? Also in dispute is whether the ... Continue to full case
Austria vs S GmbH, November 2020, Verwaltungsgerichtshof, Case No Ra 2019/15/0162-3

Austria vs S GmbH, November 2020, Verwaltungsgerichtshof, Case No Ra 2019/15/0162-3

S GmbH was an Austrian trading company of a group. In the course of business restructuring, the real estate division of the Austrian-based company was initially separated from the “trading operations/brands” division on the demerger date of 31 March 2007. The trademark rights remained with the previous trading company, which was the parent company of the group, now M GmbH. On 25 September 2007, M GmbH transferred all trademark rights to a permanent establishment in Malta, which was set up in the same year, to which it also moved its place of management on 15 January 2008. Licence agreements were concluded between S GmbH and M GmbH, which entitle S GmbH to use the trademarks of M GmbH for advertising and marketing measures in connection with its business operations in return for a (turnover-dependent) licence fee. The tax authorities (re)assessed the corporate income tax for ... Continue to full case
Bulgaria vs CBS, October 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 12349

Bulgaria vs CBS, October 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 12349

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court set aside a tax assessment in which CBS International Netherlands B.V. had been denied reimbursement of withholding tax related to royalties and license payments. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court. In the appeal the tax authorities held that the beneficial owner of the licence and royalty payments was not CBS International Netherlands B.V. but instead CBS CORPORATION, a company incorporated and domiciled in New York, USA. According to the tax authorities the main function of CBS International Netherlands B.V. was that of an intermediary between the end customers and the beneficial owner. This was further supported by the transfer pricing documentation, according to which the US company that bears the risk of the development activity, the market risk is borne equally by the two companies, and the only risks ... Continue to full case
Spain vs COLGATE PALMOLIVE ESPAÑA, S.A., September 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 1996/2019 ECLI:ES:TS:2020:3062

Spain vs COLGATE PALMOLIVE ESPAÑA, S.A., September 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 1996/2019 ECLI:ES:TS:2020:3062

The tax authorities had issued an assessment according to which royalty payments from Colgate Palmolive España S.A (CP España) to Switzerland were not considered exempt from withholding taxes under the Spanish-Swiss DTA since the company in Switzerland was not the Beneficial Owner of the royalty-income. The assessment was set aside by the National Court in a decision issued in November 2018. The Supreme court were to clarify the conformity with the law of the judgement of the Audiencia Nacional, following in the wake of the order of admission which, in a similar manner to that proposed in appeal no. 5448/2018, ruled in favour of the taxpayer on 3 February last, asks the following questions. a) to clarify the objective and temporal limits of the so-called dynamic interpretation of the DTAs signed by the Kingdom of Spain on the basis of the OECD Model Convention – ... Continue to full case
Panama vs X S.A., September 2020, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-065

Panama vs X S.A., September 2020, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-065

An assessment was issued where the tax administration denied the application treaty benefits, understanding that the dividends distributed by X S.A. a company with tax residence in Panama, to its shareholder NL Corp in the Netherlands did not qualify for the reduced rate provided for in the DTA because the latter was not the “beneficial owner” of the dividends. Judgement of the Tax Court The court upheld the assessment. “By virtue of the above, we consider that the possibility that the tax administration of the State in which the benefits of the Convention are requested, in this case Panama, also depends on the analysis of the body of evidence, and it is not apparent that the taxpayer has provided, in a timely manner, documentation related to the elements described above, therefore, we do not consider the request to be admissible, as it has not been ... Continue to full case
Peru vs. "TELE SA", July 2020, Tax Court, Case No 03306-9-2020

Peru vs. “TELE SA”, July 2020, Tax Court, Case No 03306-9-2020

“TELE SA” had applied a 15% withholding tax rate to lease payments for telecommunications equipment purportedly provided by a Chilean company that had been established by the Mexican parent of the “TELE” group. TELE SA claimed the payments qualified as royalties under Article 12 of the Peru-Chile double tax treaty. The Peruvian Tax Authority found the reduced 15 % rate did not apply to the lease payments because the Chilean entity was not the beneficial owner of the royalty payments. Hence an assessment was issued where withholding taxes had been calculated using a 30% rate under Peruvian domestic tax legislation. An appeal was filed with the Tax Court. Judgement of the Tax Court The Tax Court upheld the decision of the tax authorities and dismissed the appeal of “TELE SA”. The 15% withholding tax rate for royalty provided for in Article 12 of the double ... Continue to full case
France vs Société Planet, July 2020, CAA, Case No 18MA04302

France vs Société Planet, July 2020, CAA, Case No 18MA04302

The Administrative Court of Appeal (CAA) set aside a judgement of the administrative court and upheld the tax authorities claims of withholding taxes on royalties paid by Société Planet to companies in Belgium and Malta irrespective of the beneficial owner of those royalties being a company in New Zealand. Hence, Article 12(2) of the Franco-New Zealand tax treaty was not considered applicable to French source royalties whose beneficial owner resided in New Zealand, where they had been paid to an intermediary company established in a third country. Click here for English translation Click here for other translation France vs Planet July 2020 CAA 18MA04302 ... Continue to full case
Italy vs Stiga s.p.a., formerly Global Garden Products Italy s.p.a., July 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 14756.2020

Italy vs Stiga s.p.a., formerly Global Garden Products Italy s.p.a., July 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 14756.2020

The Italian Tax Authorities held that the withholding tax exemption under the European Interest and Royalty Directive did not apply to interest paid by Stiga s.p.a. to it’s parent company in Luxembourg. The interest was paid on a loan established in connection with a merger leverage buy out transaction. According to the Tax Authorities the parent company in Luxembourg was a mere conduit and could not be considered as the beneficial owner of the Italian income since the interest payments was passed on to another group entity. The Court rejected the arguments of the Italian Tax Authorities and recognized the parent company in Luxembourg as the beneficial owner of the interest income. In the decision, reference was made to the Danish Beneficial Owner Cases from the EU Court of Justice to clarify the conditions for application of the withholding tax exemption under the EU Interest and ... Continue to full case
France vs Atlantique Négoce (Enka), June 2020, Conseil d'Etat, Case No. 423809

France vs Atlantique Négoce (Enka), June 2020, Conseil d’Etat, Case No. 423809

For FY 2007 Atlantique Négoce declared having paid dividends to its Luxembourg parent company, Enka, but the tax authorities found that it had not been proven that the Luxembourg parent company was the actual beneficial owner of the dividends. On that basis a claim for withholding tax on the dividends was issued. Judgement of the Conseil d’Etat. The court upheld the decision of the tax authorities and dismissed the appeal of Atlantique Négoce. It follows from the grounds of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of 26 February 2019, Skatteministeriet v T Danmark and Y Denmark Aps (aff. C-116/16 and C 117/16, paragraph 113) that the status of beneficial owner of the dividends must be regarded as a condition for benefiting from the exemption from withholding tax provided for in Article 5 of Directive 90/435/EEC of 23 July 1990 ... Continue to full case
Switzerland vs Coffee Machine Group, April 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_354/2018

Switzerland vs Coffee Machine Group, April 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_354/2018

Coffee Machine Ltd. was founded in Ireland and responsible for the trademark and patent administration as well as the management of the research and development activities of the A group, the world’s largest manufacturer of coffee machines. A Swiss subsidiary of the A group reported payments of dividend to the the Irish company and the group claimed that the payments were exempt from withholding tax under the DTA and issued a claim for a refund. Tax authorities found that the Irish company was not the beneficial owner of the dividend and on that basis denied the companies claim for refund. The lower Swiss court upheld the decision of the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower court and supplemented its findings with the argument, that the arrangement was also abusive because of the connection between the ... Continue to full case