Category: Non-Recognition and Recharacterisation

An intercompany transaction as accurately delineated may be disregarded, and if appropriate, replaced by an alternative transaction, where the arrangements made in relation to the transaction, viewed in their totality, differ from those which would have been adopted by independent enterprises behaving in a commercially rational manner in comparable circumstances, thereby preventing determination of a price that would be acceptable to both of the parties taking into account their respective perspectives and the options realistically available to each of them at the time of entering into the transaction. It is also relevant to consider whether the MNE group as a whole is left worse off on a pre-tax basis since this may be an indicator that the transaction viewed in its entirety lacks the commercial rationality.

Netherlands vs Lender BV, June 2019, Tax Court, Case No 17/871

Netherlands vs Lender BV, June 2019, Tax Court, Case No 17/871

A Dutch company, Lender BV, provided loans to an affiliated Russian company on which interest was paid. The Dispute was (1) whether the full amount of interest should be included in the taxable income in the Netherlands, or if part of the “interest payment” was subject to the participation exemption or (2) whether the Netherlands was required to provide relief from double taxation for the Russian dividend tax and, if so, to what amount. The Tax court found it to be a loan and the payments therefor qualified as interest and not dividend. The participation exemption does not apply to interest. In addition, the court ruled that the Russian thin-capitalization rules did not have an effect on the Netherlands through Article 9 of the Convention for the avoidance of double taxation between the Netherlands and Russia. Application of the participation exemption was not an issue. In the opinion ... Continue to full case

Finland vs Borealis OY, March 2019, Administrative Court, Decisions not yet published

On 19 March 2019, the Helsinki Administrative Court issued two decisions in a tax dispute between the Finnish tax authorities and Borealis Polymers Oy and Borealis Technology Oy. The decisions have not yet been published. Borealis Polymers Oy and Borealis Technology Oy are subsidiaries of Borealis AG. The Austrian Group is a leading provider of polyolefin compounds for the global wire and cable industry, plastic materials for the automotive industry and for used in consumer products. The group also produces a wide range of base chemicals such as melamine, phenol, acetone, ethylene and propylene, as well as fertilizers and technical nitrogen products. The decisions cover fiscal years 2008, 2009 and 2010 and – according to Borealis’ public statement – relates to re-characterisation of intra group licence agreements. Additional information is providedIn Borealis’ Annual report for 2018: Borealis Technology OY, Finland, for 2008 and 2010: The ... Continue to full case
US vs SIH Partners LLLP, May 2019, US Third Circuit of Appeal, Case No 18-1862

US vs SIH Partners LLLP, May 2019, US Third Circuit of Appeal, Case No 18-1862

The Third Circuit of Appeal upheld the tax courts prior decision i a $377 million dispute involving the affiliate of a US based commodities trader. The Court found that SIH Partners LLLP, an affiliate of Pennsylvania-based commodities trader Susquehanna International Group LLP, owed taxes on approximately $377 million in additional income. The extra earnings stemmed from a $1.5 billion loan from Bank of America brokerage Merrill Lynch, which was guaranteed by SIH’s subsidiaries in Ireland and the Cayman Islands. The Tax Court’s ruling was based on regulations under Section 956 of the Internal Revenue Code, which states that U.S. shareholders must include their controlled foreign corporations’ applicable earnings, up to the amount of such a loan, in their own income when the foreign units invest in U.S. property. US vs SIH Partners LLLP181862p Share: ... Continue to full case
India vs Aegis Ltd, January 2018, High Court of Bombay, Case No 1248 of 2016

India vs Aegis Ltd, January 2018, High Court of Bombay, Case No 1248 of 2016

Aegis Ltd had advanced money to an assosiated enterprice (AE)  and recived preference shares carrying no dividend in return. The Indian Transfer Pricing Officer (TPO) held that the “acqusition of preference shares” were in fact equivalent to an interest free loan advanced by Aegis Ltd to the assosiated enterprice and accordingly re-characterised the transaction and issued an assessment for 2009 and 2010 where interest was charged on notional basis. Aegis Ltd disagreed with the assessment of the TPO and brought the case before the Tax Tribunal. The Tribunal did not accept the conclusions of the TPO. “The TPO cannot disregard the apparent transaction and substitute the same without any material of exceptional circumstances pointing out that the assessee had tried to conceal the real transaction or that the transaction in question was sham. The Tribunal observed that the TPO cannot question the commercial expediency of the ... Continue to full case
South Africa vs Sasol Oil, November 2018, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No 923/2017

South Africa vs Sasol Oil, November 2018, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No 923/2017

The South African Supreme Court of Appeal, by a majority of the court, upheld an appeal against the decision of the Tax Court, in which it was held that contracts between companies in the Sasol Group of companies, for the supply of crude oil by a company in the Isle of Man to a group company in London, and the on sale of the same crude oil to Sasol Oil (Pty) Ltd in South Africa, were simulated transactions. As such, the Tax Court found that the transactions should be disregarded by the Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service, and that the Commissioner was entitled to issue additional assessments for the 2005, 2006 and 2007 tax years. On appeal, the Court considered all the circumstances leading to the conclusion of the impugned contracts, the terms of the contracts, the evidence of officials of Sasol Oil, ... Continue to full case
Luxembourg vs PPL-Co, July 2017, Cour Administrative, Case No 38357C

Luxembourg vs PPL-Co, July 2017, Cour Administrative, Case No 38357C

The Administrative Court re-characterised a profit-participating loan into equity for tax purposes. The court provided the following reasoning: “Compared with the criteria specified above for a requalification as a disguised contribution of capital, it should firstly be noted that the sums made available to the two subsidiaries were allocated to investments in properties intended in principle to represent investments in the medium or long term as assets of the invested assets and in the absence of a clause providing for a repayment plan or a fixed maturity, the sums were intended to remain at the disposal of the subsidiaries for a period otherwise limited. In addition, this availability of funds did not give rise to any fixed consideration from the two subsidiaries, but only to a share of the appellant in the capital gains generated by hotel disposals, this interest amounting to three quarters of ... Continue to full case
UK vs CJ Wildbird Foods Limited, June 2018, First-tier Tribunal, case no. UKFTT0341 (TC06556)

UK vs CJ Wildbird Foods Limited, June 2018, First-tier Tribunal, case no. UKFTT0341 (TC06556)

In the transfer pricing case of C J Wildbird Foods Limited the issue was whether a related party loan should be treated as such for tax purposes. There was a loan agreement between the parties and the agreement specified that there was an obligation to repay the loan and interest. However, no interest had actually been paid and a tax deduction had also been claimed by the tax payer on the basis that the debt was unlikely to be repaid. The tax authorities argued that the loan did not have the characteristics of a loan. The borrower was loss making  and did not have the financial capacity to pay any interest. The tribunal found that there was a legal obligation to repay the loan and interest. Whether the loan or interest was actually repaid was irrelevant. “The modern business world has many famous examples of ... Continue to full case
US vs. Hewlett Packard, November 2017, Court of Appeals, Case No 14-73047

US vs. Hewlett Packard, November 2017, Court of Appeals, Case No 14-73047

This issue in this case is qualification of an investment as debt or equity. HP bought preferred stock in Foppingadreef Investments, a Dutch company. Foppingadreef Investments bought contingent interest notes, from which FOP’s preferred stock received dividends that HP claimed as foreign tax credits. HP claimed millions in foreign tax credits between 1997 and 2003, then exercised its option to sell its preferred shares for a capital loss of more than $16 million. The IRS characterized the transaction as debt, and denied the tax credits claimed by Hewlett Packard. First the Tax Court and later the Court of Appeal agreed with the tax authorities. The eleven factors considered by the Court when qualifying an investment as debt/equity the names given to the certificates evidencing the indebtedness; the presence or absence of a maturity date; the source of the payments; the right to enforce the payment of ... Continue to full case
UK vs. BNP PARIBAS, September 2017, FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL TAX CHAMBER, TC05941

UK vs. BNP PARIBAS, September 2017, FIRST-TIER TRIBUNAL TAX CHAMBER, TC05941

The issues in this case was: Whether the price of purchase of right to dividends were deductible. Whether the purchase and sale of right to dividends was trading transaction in course of Appellant’s trade. Whether the purchase price expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively for purposes of the trade. Whether HMRC were permitted to argue point in relation to section 730 ICTA that was not raised in closure notice and which they stated they were not pursuing Whether the price of sale of right to dividends should be disregarded for the purposes of calculating Appellant’s trading profits under section 730(3) ICTA BNP-vs-HMRC Share: ... Continue to full case
Norway vs. IKEA Handel og Ejendom, October 2016, HRD 2016-722

Norway vs. IKEA Handel og Ejendom, October 2016, HRD 2016-722

In 2007, IKEA reorganised its property portfolio in Norway so that the properties were demerged from the Norwegian parent company and placed in new, separate companies. The shares in these companies were placed in a newly established property company, and the shares in this company were in turn sold to the original parent company, which then became an indirect owner of the same properties. The last acquisition was funded through an inter-company loan. Based on the non-statutory anti-avoidance rule in Norwegian Tax Law, the Supreme Court concluded that the parent company could not be allowed to deduct the interest on the inter-company loan, as the main purpose of the reorganisation was considered to be to save tax. The anti-avoidance rule in section 13-1 of the Tax Act did not apply in this circumstance. Click here for translation Norway vs IKEA-Handel-og-Ejendom-HRD-2016-722 Share: ... Continue to full case
Norway vs. ConocoPhillips, October 2016, Supreme Court HR-2016-988-A, Case No. 2015/1044)

Norway vs. ConocoPhillips, October 2016, Supreme Court HR-2016-988-A, Case No. 2015/1044)

A tax assessments based on anti-avoidance doctrine “gjennomskjæring” were set aside. The case dealt with the benefits of a multi-currency cash pool arrangement. The court held that the decisive question was whether the allocation of the benefits was done at arm’s length. The court dismissed the argument that the benefits should accure to the parent company as only common control between the parties which should be disregarded. The other circumstances regarding the actual transaction should be recognized when pricing the transaction. In order to achieve an arm’s length price, the comparison must take into account all characteristics of the controlled transaction except the parties’ association with each other. While the case was before the Supreme Court, the Oil Tax Board made a new amendment decision, which also included a tax assessment for 2002. This amendment, which was based on the same anti-avoidance considerations, was on its own to the company’s advantage. Following the Supreme Court judgment, a new ... Continue to full case
Spain vs. PEUGEOT CITROEN AUTOMOVILES, May 2016, Supreme Court, case nr. 58/2015

Spain vs. PEUGEOT CITROEN AUTOMOVILES, May 2016, Supreme Court, case nr. 58/2015

The company had deducted impairment losses recognised on an investment in an Argentinean company (recently acquired from a related entity) arising from the conversion into capital of loans granted to the entity by other group companies, loans which had been acquired by the Spanish taxpayer. The tax administration argued that acquisition of such loans would not have taken place between independent parties due to the economic situation in Argentina at that time. The Supreme Court considered this conclusion to be wrong for two reasons: From a technical point of view, it was unacceptable to consider that the loans had no market value, since economic reality shows that even in situations of apparent insolvency there is an active market to purchase loans that are apparently uncollectible. If the loans acquired could have a market value, it was not possible to deny that they had such value without proving it; ... Continue to full case
Australia vs. Orica Limited, December 2015 Federal Court, FCA 1399; 2015 ATC 20-547.

Australia vs. Orica Limited, December 2015 Federal Court, FCA 1399; 2015 ATC 20-547.

The Orica case involve funding of an overseas entity or operations by an Australian entity, where the funds are subsequently provided back to the Australian entity or its Australian associate in a manner which purportedly generates Australian tax deductions while not generating corresponding Australian assessable income (Free dip). The arrangements essentially involve the “round robin” movement of funds where an entity claims income tax deductions in Australia for costs of borrowing or obtaining other financial benefits (including satisfaction of liabilities) from an overseas party the loan or other financial benefit provided by the overseas party is in substance funded, directly or indirectly, by an investment by the entity claiming the deductions or its Australian associate the return on the Australian investment, reflecting the financing costs payable to the overseas party, comes back to Australia in a non-taxable or concessionally taxed form, for example, as a distribution from an ... Continue to full case
Germany vs. Corp, October 2014, Supreme Tax Court judgment I R 31/13

Germany vs. Corp, October 2014, Supreme Tax Court judgment I R 31/13

The German Supreme Tax Court rejected the tax administrations recharacterisation of a repayment of share capital to a payment of dividend. A German company resolved a share capital reduction of €16 m in preparation for a capital repayment to avoid an IFRS consolidation requirement for its sole shareholder, a public utility. It took the reduction to capital reserve, waited as required by the German Company Act for one year after a public announcement to it’s creditors, reported the reduction to the German trade registry and repaid an amount of €4 m to the shareholder. This repayment was sufficient to reduce the assets below the level for the consolidation requirement. The tax administration recharacterised the payment to a “dividend distribution” subject to withholding tax under the German Corporate Tax Act provision to the effect that payments to shareholders are deemed to be made from retained earnings unless ... Continue to full case
Spain vs. INC Bank, July 2015, Spanish National High Court

Spain vs. INC Bank, July 2015, Spanish National High Court

In the INC bank case the tax administration recharacterised part of the interest-bearing debt of the bank branch as “free” capital, with the consequent reduction of the tax-deductible expenses for debt interest. The adjustment made in relation to year 2002 and 2003 was based on the Commentaries on the OECD Model Convention approved in 2008 The court did not agree with the “dynamic interpretation” of Article 7 applied by the tax administration, in relation to “free” capital, and ruled in favor of INC Bank. Click here for translation Spain vs INC Bank 100715 Spanish National High Court Share: ... Continue to full case
Finland vs. Corp, July 2014, Supreme Administrative Court HFD 2014:119

Finland vs. Corp, July 2014, Supreme Administrative Court HFD 2014:119

A Ab had in 2009 from its majority shareholder B, based in Luxembourg, received a EUR 15 million inter-company loan. A Ab had in 2009 deducted 1,337,500 euros in interest on the loan. The loan had been granted on the basis that the banks financing A’s operations had demanded that the company acquire additional financing, which in the payment scheme would be a subordinated claim in relation to bank loans, and by its nature a so-called IFRS hybrid, which the IFRS financial statements were treated as equity. The loan was guaranteed. The fixed annual interest rate on the loan was 30 percent. The loan could be paid only on demand by A Ab. The Finnish tax authorities argued that the legal form of the inter-company loan agreed between related parties should be disregarded, and the loan reclassified as equity. Interest on the loan would therefore not be deductible for A Ab ... Continue to full case
Nederlands vs. Corp, January 2014, Lower Court, Case nr. AWB11/3717, 11/3718, 11/3719, 11/3720, 11/3721

Nederlands vs. Corp, January 2014, Lower Court, Case nr. AWB11/3717, 11/3718, 11/3719, 11/3720, 11/3721

The case involved a Dutch mutual insurance company, DutchCo, which paid surpluses from the insurance activity back to the participating members in the form of premium restitution. Prior to 2002, DutchCo reinsured the majority of its risks with external reinsurers via an external reinsurance broker. DutchCo kept a small part of the risks for its own account. In 2001, DutchCo established a subsidiary in Switzerland, Captive, to act as a captive reinsurance provider. DutchCo stated that the business rationale to establish Captive goes back to “9/11.” The resulting worldwide turmoil significantly impacted the reinsurance market. In an extremely nervous market, premiums increased and conditions were sharpened. From 2002 onward, all the reinsurance contracts of DutchCo were concluded with Captive (in exchange for payment of premiums), whereby Captive reinsured a vast majority of these risks with external reinsurers and kept a limited part of the risk ... Continue to full case
US vs Buyuk LLC and Beyazit LLC, November 2013, US Tax Court, Case No. 11051-10, 6853-12

US vs Buyuk LLC and Beyazit LLC, November 2013, US Tax Court, Case No. 11051-10, 6853-12

The dispute in this case was transactions involving distressed asset/debt transaction. The tax authorities found the DAD transactions of russian receivables under a “DBO distressed debt structure scheme” lacked economic substance, and denied the taxpayers involved tax decuctions of USD 4.5 and 12.2 million. A report provided on behalf of the government analyzed whether a rational investor would have entered into the transaction were it not for the claimed tax benefits. The Courts opinion: “there was no realistic possibility for the transactions at issue to break even absent any tax benefits.” Hence the transactions were not recognized. US Tax Court, Case No. 11051-10, 6853-12 US Tax Court 2013-253. Share: ... Continue to full case
New Zealand vs Alesco New Zealand Ltd March 2013 Court of Appeal NZCA 40

New Zealand vs Alesco New Zealand Ltd March 2013 Court of Appeal NZCA 40

In 2003 Alesco NZ bought two other companies in New Zealand. Its Australian owner, Alesco Corporation, funded the acquisitions by advancing the purchase amount of $78 million. In consideration Alesco NZ issued a series of optional convertible notes (OCNs or notes). The notes were non-interest bearing for a fixed term and on maturity the holder was entitled to exercise an option to convert the notes into shares. Between 2003 and 2008 Alesco NZ claimed deductions for amounts treated as interest liabilities on the notes in accordance with relevant accounting standards and a determination issued by the Commissioner against its liability to taxation in New Zealand. In the High Court Heath the Commissioner’s treatment of the OCN funding structure as a tax avoidance arrangement under section BG 1 of the Income Tax Act of 1994 and the Income Tax Act of 2004 was upheld. NewZealand-vs-Alesco-New-Zealand-Ltd-March-2013 Share: ... Continue to full case
Spain vs. Bicc Cables, July 2012, Supreme Court case nr. 3779/2009

Spain vs. Bicc Cables, July 2012, Supreme Court case nr. 3779/2009

In this case an adjustment was made by the tax authorities based on the non-recognition of the tax effects of a series of related-party transactions as part of a leverage acquisition of shares. The Court found that the transaction would not have been agreed by independent companies and accordingly the transaction in question was not performed in accordance with the arm’s length principle. Click here for translation Spain-vs-Bicc-Cables-July-2012-Supreme-Court Share: ... Continue to full case
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