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Category: General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR)

General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) are statutory or judicially developed (doctrine) rules that empower tax authorities to deny taxpayers the benefit of abusive schemes, arrangements or transactions where these has been entered into primarily for tax-avoidance purposes.
Examples are the “fraus legis” principle applied in the Netherlands, the German “Prudent business manager” test, the Norwegian principle of “gjennemskjaering”, the Danish “realitetsgrundsætning”, the French principle of “abnormal act of management” and the US principel of “commercial rationality”.
In common for these rules are that economic substance is preferred over legal form, as legal form can more easily be manipulated in controlled environments.

New Zealand vs Cullen Group Limited, March 2019, New Zealand High Court, Case No [2019] NZHC 404

In moving to the United Kingdom, a New Zealand citizen, Mr. Eric Watson, restructured a significant shareholding into debt owed by a New Zealand company, Cullen Group Ltd, to two Cayman Island conduit companies, all of which he still controlled to a high degree. This allowed Cullen Group Ltd to pay an Approved Issuer Levy (AIL) totalling $8 million, rather than Non-Resident Withholding Tax of $59.5 million. The steps in the arrangement were as follows: (a) Mr Watson sold his shares in […]

Denmark vs T and Y Denmark, February 2019, European Court of Justice, Cases C-116/16 and C-117/16

The cases of T Danmark (C-116/16) and Y Denmark Aps (C-117/16) adresses questions related to interpretation of the EU-Parent-Subsidary-Directive The issue is withholding taxes levied by the Danish tax authorities in situations where dividend payments are made to conduit companies located in treaty countries but were the beneficial owners of these payments are located in non-treaty countries. During the proceedings in the Danish court system the European Court of Justice was asked a number of […]

Denmark vs N, X, C, and Z Denmark, February 2019, European Court of Justice, Cases C-115/16, C-118/16, C-119/16 and C-299/16

The cases of N Luxembourg 1 (C-115/16), X Denmark A/S (C-118/16), C Danmark I (C-119/16) and Z Denmark ApS (C-299/16), adresses questions related to the interpretation of the EU Interest and Royalty Directive. The issue in these cases is withholding taxes levied by the Danish tax authorities in situations where interest payments are made to conduit companies located in treaty countries but were the beneficial owners of these payments are located in non-treaty countries. During […]

Australia vs BHP Billiton, January 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No [2019] FCAFC 4

In this case mining group BHP Billiton had not in it’s Australian CfC income included income from associated British group companies from sales of Australian goods through Singapore. The tax authorities held that the British companies in BHP’s dual-listed company structure fell within a definition of “associate”, and part of the income should therfore be taxed in Australia under local CfC legislation. In December 2017 BHP won the case in an administrative court but this […]

The EU Anti Tax Avoidance Package – Anti Tax Avoidance Directives (ATAD I & II) and Other Measures

Anti Tax Avoidance measures are now beeing implemented across the EU with effect as of 1 January 2019. The EU Anti Tax Avoidance Package (ATAP) was issued by the European Commission in 2016 to counter tax avoidance behavior of MNEs in the EU and to align tax payments with value creation. The package includes the Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive, an amending Directive as regards hybrid mismatches with third countries, and four Other measures. ATAD I The Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD), COUNCIL DIRECTIVE (EU) […]

Italy vs Dolce & Gabbana, December 2018, Supreme Court, Case no 33234/2018

In this case the Italian fashion group, Dolce & Gabbana, had moved ownership of valuable intangibles to a subsidiary established for that purpose in Luxembourg. The Italian Revenue Agency found the arrangement to be wholly artificial and set up only to avoid Italien taxes and to benefit from the privileged tax treatment in Luxembourg. The Revenue Agency argued that all decision related to the intangibles was in fact taken at the Italian headquarters of Dolce […]

Canada vs ALTA Energy Luxemburg, September 2018, Case no 2014-4359(IT)G

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 […]

OECD Model Tax Convention 2017

A new 2017 edition of the OECD Model Tax Convention has been released today, incorporating significant changes developed under the OECD/G20 project to address base erosion and profit (BEPS). The OECD Model Tax Convention, a model for countries concluding bilateral tax conventions, plays a crucial role in removing tax related barriers to cross border trade and investment. It is the basis for negotiation and application of bilateral tax treaties between countries, designed to assist business […]

Japan vs Denso Singapore, November 2017, Supreme Court of Japan

In this case a tax assessment based on Japanese CFC rules (anti-tax haven rules) had been applied to a Japanese Group’s (Denso), subsidiary in Singapore. According to Japanese CFC rules, income arising from a foreign subsidiary located in a state or territory with significantly lower tax rates is deemed to arise as the income of the parent company when the principal business of the subsidiary is holding shares or IP rights. However, the CFC rules do not apply when the subsidiary has substance and it makes […]

Zimbabwe vs CRS (Pvt) Ltd, October 2017, High Court, HH 728-17 FA 20/2014

The issue in this case was whether tax administration could tax a “non-existent income” through the “deeming provisions” of s 98 of Zimbabwe’s Income Tax Act. A lease agreement and a separate logistical agreement had been entered by CRS Ltd and a related South African company, for the lease of its mechanical trucks, trailers and tankers for a fixed rental. The tax payer contended that the rentals in the agreements were fair and reasonable. The tax administration […]

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