Category: Financial Transactions

In transfer pricing financing transactions includes inter-company loans, treasury activity (eg. cash pooling), and guarantees within MNEs.

Denmark vs. "H Borrower and Lender A/S", January 2020, Tax Tribunal, Case no SKM2021.33.LSR

Denmark vs. “H Borrower and Lender A/S”, January 2020, Tax Tribunal, Case no SKM2021.33.LSR

“H Borrower and Lender A/S”, a Danish subsidiary in the H Group, had placed deposits at and received loans from a group treasury company, H4, where the interest rate paid on the loans was substantially higher than the interest rate received on the deposits. Due to insufficient transfer pricing documentation, the tax authorities (SKAT) issued a discretionary assessment of taxable income where the interest rate on the loans had been adjusted based on the rate received on the deposits. Decision of the Court The National Tax Tribunal stated that the documentation was deficient to such an extent that it could be equated with a lack of documentation. The tax authorities had therefore been entitled to make a discretionary assessment. The National Tax Court referred, among other things, to the fact that the company’s transfer pricing documentation lacked a basic functional analysis of the group treasury ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs X B.V., December 2020, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/02096 ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:1198

Netherlands vs X B.V., December 2020, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/02096 ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:1198

This case concerns a private equity takeover structure with apparently an intended international mismatch, i.e. a deduction/no inclusion of the remuneration on the provision of funds. The case was (primarily) decided by the Court of Appeal on the basis of your non-business loan case law. The facts are as follows: A private equity fund [A] raised LP equity capital from (institutional) investors in its subfund [B] and then channelled it into two (sub)funds configured in the Cayman Islands, Fund [C] and [D] Fund. Participating in those two Funds were LPs in which the limited partners were the external equity investors and the general partners were Jersey-based [A] entities and/or executives. The equity raised in [A] was used for leveraged, debt-financed acquisitions of European targets to be sold at a capital gain after five to seven years, after optimising their EBITDA. One of these European targets ... Continue to full case
UK vs Blackrock, November 2020, First-tier Tribunal, Case No TC07920

UK vs Blackrock, November 2020, First-tier Tribunal, Case No TC07920

In 2009 the BlackRock Group acquired Barclays Global Investors for a total sum of $13,5bn . The price was paid in part by shares ($6.9bn) and in part by cash ($6.6bn). The cash payment was paid by BlackRock Holdco 5 LLC – a US Delaware Company tax resident in the UK – but funded by the parent company by issuing $4bn loan notes to the LLC. In the years following the acquisition Blackrock Holdco 5 LLC claimed tax deductions in the UK for interest payments on the intra-group loans. Following an audit in the UK the tax authorities disallowed the interest deductions. The tax authorities held that the transaction would not have happened between independent parties. They also found that the loans were entered into for an unallowable tax avoidance purpose. A UK taxpayer can be denied a deduction for interest where a loan has ... Continue to full case
UK vs Total E&P North Sea UK Ltd, October 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/1656

UK vs Total E&P North Sea UK Ltd, October 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/1656

Companies carrying on “oil-related activities” are subject to both corporation tax and a “supplementary charge”. “Oil-related activities” are treated as a separate trade and the income from them represents “ring fence profits” on which corporation tax is charged. The “supplementary charge” is levied on “adjusted” ring fence profits, in calculating which financing costs are left out of account. Between 2006 and 2011, the supplementary charge amounted to 20% of adjusted ring fence profits. On 23 March 2011, however, it was announced that the supplementary charge would be increased to 32% from midnight. The change in rate was subsequently carried into effect by section 7 of the Finance Act 2011, which received the royal assent on 19 July 2011. Total E&P, previously Maersk Oil North Sea UK Limited and Maersk Oil UK Limited, carried on “oil-related activities” and so were subject to the supplementary charge. The ... Continue to full case
Israel vs The Barzani Brothers (1974) Ltd., Oktober 2020, Jerusalem Court of Appeal, Case No 54727-02-17

Israel vs The Barzani Brothers (1974) Ltd., Oktober 2020, Jerusalem Court of Appeal, Case No 54727-02-17

The Barzani Brothers (1974) Ltd had provided interest-free financing to affiliated Romanian group companies in the form of “capital notes”. In Israel, financing qualifying as a “capital note” releases the lender from having to report interest income in its annual tax return in relation to the funding. Certain high risk long term funding arrangements may qualify as a “capital notes”. In regards to the intra-group funding provided by the Barzani Brothers Ltd, the Israel tax authorities did not recognize the qualification thereof as “capital notes”. Instead they found the funding provided to be ordinary loans. Labeling a loan agreement “capital note” does not turn the loan agreement into a capital note. On that basis an assessment of taxable interest income was issued to the company. The Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities and rejected the explanations of Barzani Brothers Ltd that the “loan-like ... Continue to full case
Allegations of tax avoidance in Dutch Pharma Group Qiagen

Allegations of tax avoidance in Dutch Pharma Group Qiagen

According to investigations by SOMO – an independent center for Research on Multinational Corporations – the annual accounts of Pharma Group Qiagen shows that the group has avoided tax on profits by passing internal loans through an elaborate network of letterbox companies in European tax havens including Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta. It is estimated that, since 2010, the group has avoided at least  €93 million in taxes and has accumulated tax deduction in an amount of €49 million ... Continue to full case
Chile vs Wallmart Chile S.A, October 2020, Tax Court, Case N° RUC N° 76.042.014K

Chile vs Wallmart Chile S.A, October 2020, Tax Court, Case N° RUC N° 76.042.014K

In 2009, Walmart acquired a majority in Distribución y Servicio D&S S.A., Chile’s leading food retailer. With headquarters in Santiago, Walmart Chile operates several formats including hypermarkets, supermarkets and discount stores. Following an audit by the tax authorities related to FY 2015, deduction of interest payments in the amount of CH$8.958,304,857.- on an “intra-group loan” was denied resulting in a tax payable of Ch$1,786,488,290. According to Wallmart, the interest payments related to debt in the form of future dividend payments/profit distributions. Decision of the Tax court “…this Court concludes that the claimant has not been able to prove the existence of a current account between Inversiones Walmart and Walmart Chile, nor has it been able to prove the appropriateness of the reduction in expenses in the amount of CH$8.958,304,857.- for interest paid to its related company, because it did not justify the need for such ... Continue to full case
New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, September 2020, Court of appeal, Case No [2020] NZCA 383

New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, September 2020, Court of appeal, Case No [2020] NZCA 383

Frucor Suntory (FHNZ) had deducted purported interest expenses that had arisen in the context of a tax scheme involving, among other steps, its issue of a Convertible Note to Deutsche Bank, New Zealand Branch (DBNZ), and a forward purchase of the shares DBNZ could call for under the Note by FHNZ’s Singapore based parent Danone Asia Pte Ltd (DAP). The Convertible Note had a face value of $204,421,565 and carried interest at a rate of 6.5 per cent per annum. Over its five-year life, FHNZ paid DBNZ approximately $66 million which FHNZ characterised as interest and deducted for income tax purposes. The tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions of interest expenses in the amount of $10,827,606 and $11,665,323 were disallowed in FY 2006 and 2007 under New Zealand´s general anti-avoidance rule in s BG 1 of the Income Tax Act 2004. In addition, penalties ... Continue to full case
UK vs General Electric, July 2020, High Court, Case No RL-2018-000005

UK vs General Electric, July 2020, High Court, Case No RL-2018-000005

General Electric (GE) have been routing financial transactions (AUS $ 5 billion) related to GE companies in Australia via the UK in order to gain a tax advantage – by “triple dipping” in regards to interest deductions, thus saving billions of dollars in tax in Australia, the UK and the US. Before entering into these transactions, GE obtained clearance from HMRC that UK tax rules were met, in particular new “Anti-Arbitrage Rules” introduced in the UK in 2005, specifically designed to prevent tax avoidance through the exploitation of the tax treatment of ‘hybrid’ entities in different jurisdictions. The clearance was granted by the tax authorities in 2005 based on the understanding that the funds would be used to invest in businesses operating in Australia. In total, GE’s clearance application concerned 107 cross-border loans amounting to debt financing of approximately £21.2 billion. The Australian Transaction was ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs X B.V., July 2020, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:672

Netherlands vs X B.V., July 2020, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:672

X bv is part of the worldwide X group, a financial service provider listed on the US stock exchange. At issue is deductibility of interest payments by X bv on a € 482 million loan granted by the parent company, US Inc. In 2010 the original loan between X bv and US Inc. was converted into two loans of € 191 million and € 291 million granted by a Luxembourg finance company in the X group, to two jointly taxed subsidiaries of X bv. According to the Dutch Tax Authorities, the interest payments on these loans falls under the provisions in Dutch art. 10a of the VPB Act 1969 whereby interest deductions are restricted. The Court of appeal disagreed and ruled in favor of X bv. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court by the tax authorities. In a preliminary ruling, the Advocate General ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Loblaw Financial Holdings Inc., April 2020, Federal Court of Appeal, Case No 2020 FCA 79

Canada vs Loblaw Financial Holdings Inc., April 2020, Federal Court of Appeal, Case No 2020 FCA 79

In the case of Canadian grocery chain Loblaw, the Canadian Tax Court in 2018 found that using an offshore banking affiliate in a low tax jurisdiction – Barbados – to manage the groups investments did not constitute tax avoidance. However, the Tax Court’s interpretation of a technical provision in the Canadian legislation had the consequence that Loblaw would nonetheless have to pay $368 million in taxes and penalties. This decision has now been overturned by the Canadian Court of Appeal where a judgement in favor of Loblaw was delivered. Canada vs Loblaw April 2020 SC ... Continue to full case
UK vs Union Castle Ltd, April 2020, UK Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2018/3003 and 3004

UK vs Union Castle Ltd, April 2020, UK Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2018/3003 and 3004

Union Castle Ltd. claimed a tax deduction of £ 39 million related to losses on derivative contracts. After acquiring derivative contracts, Union Castle issued bonus A shares to it’s parent company, Caledonia, which carried a dividend equal to 95% of the cash-flows arising on the close-out of the contracts. Therefore Union Castle had written off 39 million of the value of the contracts in it’s accounts. The tax authorities disagreed that a tax loss had been suffered and issued an assessment disallowing the loss. The Tribunal found in favor of the tax authorities. Capital transactions are subject of the UK transfer pricing rules. Issuing of shares meets the requirements of “making or imposing conditions in commercial and financial relations” as required by Article 9 of the OECD Model Convention. OECD TPG apply to debt financing. Share transactions, which have an effect on income taxation, must ... Continue to full case
Finland vs A Group, April 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2020:35

Finland vs A Group, April 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2020:35

In 2008, the A Group had reorganized its internal financing function so that the Group’s parent company, A Oyj, had established A Finance NV in Belgium. Thereafter, A Oyj had transferred to intra-group long-term loan receivables of approximately EUR 223,500,000 to A Finance NV. In return, A Oyj had received shares in A Finance NV. The intra-group loan receivables transferred in kind had been unsecured and the interest income on the loan receivables had been transferred to A Finance NV on the same day. A Finance NV had entered the receivables in its balance sheet as assets. In addition, A Oyj and A Finance NV had agreed that target limits would be set for the return on investment achieved by A Finance NV through its operations. A Finance NV has reimbursed A Oyj for income that has exceeded the target limit or, alternatively, invoiced A ... Continue to full case
Switzerland vs "PPL AG", March 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_578/2019

Switzerland vs “PPL AG”, March 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_578/2019

“PPL AG” had been set up as a limited liability company and in addition to the ordinary share capital, “PPL AG” had issued non-voting shares (participation certificates) to its German parent company and to three German individual investors in an aggregate amount of CHF 1.82 million. “PPL AG” was later converted into a joint stock corporation and on that occasion the participation certificates were converted into Profit Participating Loans (PPL), with an annual interest rate of 7%. In 2015, the Swiss tax administration carried out a tax audit of “PPL AG” for the years 2010-2014 and issued an assessment claiming payment of CHF 94,000 in withholding taxes on constructive dividends. According to the tax administration “PPL AG” had paid excessive amounts of interest to its lenders under the PPLs, exceeding the safe harbour interest rates published by the Swiss tax administration for the years under ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs [X] B.V., legal successor to [Y] U.A., March 2020, Pending before the Supreme Court, Case No ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:102

Netherlands vs [X] B.V., legal successor to [Y] U.A., March 2020, Pending before the Supreme Court, Case No ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:102

To acquire companies and resell them with capital gains a French Investment Fund distributed the capital of its investors (€ 5.4 billion in equity) between a French Fund Commun de Placement à Risques (FCPRs) and British Ltds managed by the French Investment Fund. For the purpose of acquiring the [X] group (the target), the French Investment Fund set up three legal entities in the Netherlands, [Y] UA, [B] BV, and [C] BV (the acquisition holding company). These three joint taxed entities are shown as Fiscal unit [A] below. The capital to be used for the acquisition of [X] group was divided into four FCPRs that held 30%, 30%, 30% and 10% in [Y] respectively. To get the full amount needed for the acquisition, [Y] members provided from their equity to [Y]: (i) member capital (€ 74.69 million by the FCPRs, € 1.96 million by the ... Continue to full case
UK vs Smith & Nephew, March 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/0521

UK vs Smith & Nephew, March 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/0521

In the case of HMRC v Smith & Nephew Overseas Ltd, consideration was given to the “fairly represent” requirement in the loan relationship code. The dispute concerns each of the Smith & Nephew’s entitlement to set off foreign exchange losses against their liability to corporation tax. The exchanges loss arose as a result of Smith & Nephews changing their functional accounting currencies from sterling to US dollars on 23 December 2008 at a time when the only asset on their balance sheets was a very substantial inter-company debt owed to them by their parent company. The debts were denominated in sterling but then had to be converted into dollars when the companies’ accounts were restated in dollars. The next day, the debts were disposed of as part of a group restructuring. The exchange losses arose from Smith & Nephew’s ‘loan relationships’ as that term is ... Continue to full case
Italy vs "Lender" SpA, February 2020, Regional Tax Tribunal for Umbria, Case No 18/02/2020 n. 56

Italy vs “Lender” SpA, February 2020, Regional Tax Tribunal for Umbria, Case No 18/02/2020 n. 56

An Italian parent company “Lender SpA” had granted interest free loans to foreign subsidiaries. Lender SpA had also paid subsidiaries for services rendered. The Italian tax authorities held that interest should be paid on the loans and that the company had not sufficiently demonstrated the conditions to justify the deductibility of costs of services. The regional Court found in favor of the tax authorities and dismissed the appeal of Lender SpA. “For these loans, which took place on the initiative of the Managing Director and in the absence of a resolution of the Shareholders’ Meeting, the Company partly used its available liquidity and partly resorted to the credit market. In this situation, contrary to what was claimed by the company xxxxx, the principle established by the aforementioned art. 110, paragraph 7 of the Consolidated Income Tax Act should have been applied and, therefore, the Italian ... Continue to full case
New TPG Chapter X on Financial Transactions (and additions to TPG Chapter I) released by OECD

New TPG Chapter X on Financial Transactions (and additions to TPG Chapter I) released by OECD

Today, the OECD has released the report Transfer Pricing Guidance on Financial Transactions. The guidance in the report describes the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions and includes a number of examples to illustrate the principles discussed in the report. Section B provides guidance on the application of the principles contained in Section D.1 of Chapter I of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines to financial transactions. In particular, Section B.1 of this report elaborates on how the accurate delineation analysis under Chapter I applies to the capital structure of an MNE within an MNE group. It also clarifies that the guidance included in that section does not prevent countries from implementing approaches to address capital structure and interest deductibility under their domestic legislation. Section B.2 outlines the economically relevant characteristics that inform the analysis of the terms and conditions of financial transactions. Sections C, D ... Continue to full case
Argentina vs Transportadora de Energía SA, December 2019, Supreme Court, Case No CAF 39109/2014/3/RH2

Argentina vs Transportadora de Energía SA, December 2019, Supreme Court, Case No CAF 39109/2014/3/RH2

The tax authorities had recharacterized debt to equity and disallowed deductions for interest payments etc. Decision of the Supreme Court The Court decided in favour of Transportadora de Energía SA and set aside the debt to equity re-characterisation. The court also points to the relevance of transfer pricing studies. The Court noted that the tax authorities had failed to properly review the transfer pricing documentation and benchmarking of the intra-group financing for transfer pricing purposes, and on that basis set aside the assessment. Click here for English Translation Argentina 26 dec 2FALLO CAF 039109_2014_3_RH002 ... Continue to full case
Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, November 2019, Oslo Court -2019-48963 – UTV-2020-104

Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, November 2019, Oslo Court -2019-48963 – UTV-2020-104

In 2011, Petrolia SE established a wholly owned subsidiary in Norway – Petrolia Noco AS – to conduct oil exploration activities on the Norwegian shelf. From the outset Petrolia Noco AS received a loan from the parent company Petrolia SE. The written loan agreement was first signed later on 15 May 2012. The loan limit was originally MNOK 100 with an agreed interest rate of 3 months NIBOR with the addition of a margin of 2.25 percentage points. When the loan agreement was formalized in writing in 2012, the agreed interest rate was changed to 3 months NIBOR with the addition of an interest margin of 10 percentage points. The loan limit was increased to MNOK 150 in September 2012, and then to MNOK 330 in April 2013. In the tax return for 2012 and 2013, Petrolia Noco AS demanded a full deduction for actual ... Continue to full case