Category: Sales and Marketing Hubs

Sales and Marketing Hubs in low tax jurisdictions; Singapore, Ireland, Switzerland etc. used for tax avoidance purposes.

A Singapore Sling is a tax avoidance scheme in which a large multinational company sells products to a subsidiary owned by them in a jurisdiction with lower tax rates, which acts as a “marketing hub” and taking a huge bite of the overall profit.

Similarly, a ‘double Irish with Dutch sandwich’ has allowed multinationals to establish a series of companies in both Ireland and the Netherlands to reduce taxes. These structures usually have an Irish sales and marketing HQ, and local sales companies setup as (or converted into) “commissionaires”.

France vs Google, September 2019, Court approval of CJIP Agreement - Google agrees to pay EUR 1 billion in fines and taxes to end Supreme Court Case

France vs Google, September 2019, Court approval of CJIP Agreement – Google agrees to pay EUR 1 billion in fines and taxes to end Supreme Court Case

The district court of Paris has approved a  “convention judiciaire d’intérêt public” negotiated between the French state and Google for an amount of € 500 million plus another agreement with the French tax authorities which amounts to 465 million euros. The agreement puts an end to the French lawsuits against Google for aggressive tax evasion, and litigation with the tax administration relating to adjustments for the periods going from 2005 to 2018. The CJIP “convention judiciaire d’intérêt public”, was established by Article 22 of Law No. 2016-1691 of 9 December 2016 in France on transparency and fight against corruption. By Law No. 2018-898 of October 23, 2018 the law was extended to cover cases for tax evasion. According to the CJIP legal actions can be ended in return for the payment of a fine. The dispute concerned the existence of a permanent establishment of Google ... Continue to full case
Australia vs Glencore, September 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 1432

Australia vs Glencore, September 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCA 1432

Glencore Australia (CMPL) sold copper concentrate produced in Australia to its Swiss parent, Glencore International AG (GIAG). The tax administration found, that the price paid by Glencore International AG to Glencore Australia for the copper concentrate in the relevant years according to a price sharing agreement was less than the price that might reasonably be expected to have been paid in an arm’s length dealing between independent parties. ‘The amended assessments included in the taxpayer’s assessable income additional amounts of $49,156,382 (2007), $83,228,784 (2008) and $108,675,756 (2009) referrable to the consideration which the Commissioner considered would constitute an arm’s length payment for the copper concentrate sold to Glencore International AG in each of the relevant years. The Federal Court of Australia found in favor of Glencore. “Accordingly I find that the taxpayer has established that the prices that CMPL was paid by GIAG for the ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court

Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court

The Danish tax authorities were of the opinion that Microsoft Denmark had not been properly remunerated for performing marketing activities due to the fact that OEM sales to Danish customers via MNE OEM’s had not been included in the calculation of local commissions. According to the Market Development Agreement (MDA agreement) concluded between Microsoft Denmark and MIOL with effect from 1 July 2003, Microsoft Denmark received the largest amount of either a commission based on sales invoiced in Denmark or a markup on it’s costs. Microsoft Denmark’s commission did not take into account the sale of Microsoft products that occurred through the sale of computers by multinational computer manufacturers with pre-installed Microsoft software to end users in Denmark – (OEM sales). In court, Microsoft required a dismissal. In a narrow 3:2 decision the Danish Supreme Court found in favor of Microsoft. “…Microsoft Denmark’s marketing may ... Continue to full case
Australia vs BHP Billiton, January 2019, Federal Court of Australia,  Case No [2019] FCAFC 4

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

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 decision was appealed to the Federal Court by the authorities. The Federal Court found in favor of the tax authority. The court found that both BHP’s Australian and British arms are associates, and therefore subject to tax in Australia under Australien CfC rules. BHP has now asked the High Court for leave to appeal. Australia v BHP jan 2019 FC AFC 4 Share: ... Continue to full case
Norway vs Stanley Black & Decker Norway AS , December 2018, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2016-105694

Norway vs Stanley Black & Decker Norway AS , December 2018, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2016-105694

At issue was the transfer pricing method applied on transactions between Black & Deckers Norwegian distribution company and the group trading hub in Luxembourg, Black & Decker Ltd SARL. The Norwegian tax authorities in 2013 issued a tax assessment of Black and Decker Norway AS where the taxable income for years 2005 – 2008 was increased with a total amount of NOK 50 million. The assessment was appealed to the Tax Appeals Committee where the amount was reduced to a total of NOK 26 million in line with recommendations of the tax authorities during the proceedings. The decision of the Tax Appeals Committee was upheld by the District Court and later the Court of Appeal where the appeal of Black & Decker was rejected. Click here for translation Norway vs Black & Decker december 2018 case no LB-2016-105694 Share: ... Continue to full case
Microsoft - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Microsoft – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

For many years Microsoft’s tax affairs have been in the spotlight of tax authorities. Why? The setup used by Microsoft involves shifting profits from sales in the US, Europe and Asia to regional operating centers placed in low tax jurisdictions. The following text has been provided by Microsoft in a US filing concerning effective tax and global allocation of income: “Our effective tax rate for the three months ended September 30, 2017 and 2016 was 18% and 17%, respectively. Our effective tax rate was lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions resulting from producing and distributing our products and services through our foreign regional operations centers in Ireland, Singapore, and Puerto Rico.“ “In fiscal year 2017, our U.S. income before income taxes was $6.8 billion and our foreign income before income taxes was $23.1 ... Continue to full case
Marketing and Procurement Hubs - Tax Avoidance

Marketing and Procurement Hubs – Tax Avoidance

The Australian Taxation Office has issued new guidance for multinational groups using offshore marketing- and procurment hubs for tax avoidance purposes. The guidance adresses tax schemes where MNEs uses offshore hubs to shift profits and thereby avoid Australian taxes. Offshore hub arrangements are catagorised by the ATO as white, green, blue, yellow, amber, or red – based on the risk assesment for tax purposes of the transfer pricing setup. The new guidance is a result of recent Australian investigations and hearings into tax avoidance schemes used by Multinational Groups. Tax avoidance in Australia Australian Senate Hearings into Tax Avoidance The overall framework for Australian risk assessment for tax purposes of MNE’s offshore marketing- and procurement hubs is shown below: Share: ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Cameco Corp., October 2018, Tax Court of Canada, Case No 2018 TCC 195

Canada vs Cameco Corp., October 2018, Tax Court of Canada, Case No 2018 TCC 195

Canadian mining company, Cameco Corp., sells uranium to a wholly owned trading hub, Cameco Europe Ltd., registred in low tax jurisdiction, Switzerland, which then re-sells the uranium to independent buyers. The parties had entered into a series of controlled transactions related to this activity and as a result the Swiss trading hub, Cameco Europe Ltd., was highly profitable. Following an audit, the Canadian tax authorities issued a transfer pricing tax assessment covering years 2003, 2005, 2006, and later tax assessments for subsequent tax years, adding up to a total of approximately US 1.5 bn in taxes, interest and penalties. The tax authorities first position was that the controlled purchase and sale agreements should be disregarded as a sham as all important functions and decisions were in fact made by Cameco Corp. in Canada. As a second and third position the tax authorities held that the Canadian transfer ... Continue to full case
Apple - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Apple – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Apple’s tax affairs have been in the spotlight of tax authorities for decades – and still are! Settlements have been entered with numerous European Countries, among others – Italy, the UK and France. Apple has also been investigated by the EU and a State Aid ruling was issued in August 2016. According to the ruling “Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple” and the European Commission ordered Apple to pay €13 billion, plus interest, in unpaid Irish taxes from 2004–14 to the Irish state. U.S. Senate scrutiny of Apple Inc.’s tax strategies back in 2009 turned the spotlight on a stateless entity with $30 billion in profit since 2009 that’s incorporated in Ireland, controlled by a board in California, and didn’t pay taxes in either place. Share: ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, March 2018, Danish National Court, SKM2018.416.ØLR

Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, March 2018, Danish National Court, SKM2018.416.ØLR

The Danish Tax Ministry and Microsoft meet in Court in a case where the Danish tax authorities had issued an assessment of DKK 308 million. The Danish tax authorities were of the opinion that Microsoft had not been properly remunerated for performing marketing activities due to the fact that OEM sales to Danish customers via MNE OEM’s had not been included in the calculation of local commissions. In court, Microsoft required a dismissal with reference to the fact that Sweden, Norway and Finland had either lost or resigned similar tax cases against Micorosoft. The National Court ruled in favor of Microsoft. The decision has now been appealed to the Supreme Court by the Danish tax ministery. Click here for translation DK vs MS Marketing-and Sales Commissioner Share: ... Continue to full case
France vs Valueclick Ltd. March 2018, CAA, Case no 17PA01538

France vs Valueclick Ltd. March 2018, CAA, Case no 17PA01538

The issue in the case before the Administrative Court of Appeal of Paris was whether an Irish company had a PE in France in a situation where employees of a French company in the same group carried out marketing, representation, management, back office and administrative assistance services on behalf of the group. The following facts were used to substantiate the presence of a French PE: French employees negotiated the terms of contracts and were involved in drafting certain contractual clauses with the customers. Contracts were automatically signed by the Irish company – whether this action corresponded to a simple validation of the contracts negotiated and drawn up by the managers and employees in France. Local advertising programs were developed and monitored by employees in France. French employees acted to third parties as employees of the Irish company. Customers did not distinguish between the Irish and the French company. However, ... Continue to full case
Google - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Google – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Google’s tax affairs are back in the spotlight after filings in the Netherlands have showed that billions of dollars were moved to Bermuda in 2016 using the “double Irish Dutch sandwich”. According to the Washington Post, Google’s cash transfers to Bermuda reached $27b in 2016. Google uses the double Irish Dutch sandwich structure to shield the majority of it’s international profits from taxation. The setup involves shifting revenue from one Irish subsidiary to a Dutch company with no employees, and then on to a Bermuda-mailbox owned by another company registered in Ireland. US According to US filings, Google’s global effective tax rate in 2016 was 19.3%. New US tax law will give companies such as Google an incentive to repatriate much of that cash by offering them a “one-time”, 15.5% tax rate on offshore funds. After that, foreign earnings will be taxed at 10.5%, with ... Continue to full case
Africa - Mining and Transfer Pricing

Africa – Mining and Transfer Pricing

Most Sub Saharan African jurisdictions see the area of mineral transfers/sales as the main transfer pricing risk, but only few have systems in place to check if prices applied to minerals transferred to related parties comply with the arm’s length principle. Studies highlights a strong need for capacity strengthening in the area of transfer pricing throughout the African continent and for enhancing the knowledge of mining industry within tax authorities. South Africa has, for many years, been the leader in transfer pricing audits among the African countries. But emerging countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, are now making a concerted effort to develop transfer pricing capability. In Tanzania, for example, the Acasia Mining Plc. was recently  issued a USD 190 billion tax bill. The assessment demonstrates a strong political will in Africa to address transfer pricing non-compliance. A paper commissioned by the World Bank highlights transfer pricing issues within the ... Continue to full case

South Africa vs. Kumba Iron Ore, 2017, Settlement 2.5bn

A transfer pricing dispute between South African Revenue Service and Sishen Iron Ore, a subsidiary of Kumba Iron Ore, has now been resolved in a settlement of ZAR 2.5bn. The case concerned disallowance of sales commissions paid to offshore sales and marketing subsidiaries in Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Hong Kong. Since 2012, Kumba Iron Ore’s international marketing has been integrated with the larger Anglo American group’s Singapore-based marketing hub. The settlement follows a similar investigations into the transfer pricing activities of Evraz Highveld Steel, which resulted in a R685 million tax claim against the now-bankrupt company related to apparent tax evasion using an Austrian shell company between 2007 and 2009. Share: ... Continue to full case
Australian Parliament Hearings - Tax Avoidance

Australian Parliament Hearings – Tax Avoidance

In a public hearing held 22 August 2017 in Sydney Australia by the Economics References Committee, tech companies IBM, Microsoft, and Apple were called to the witnesses stand to explain about tax avoidance schemes – use of “regional headquarters” in low tax jurisdictions (Singapore, Ireland and the Netherlands) to avoid or reduce taxes. Follow the ongoing Australian hearings into corporate tax avoidance on this site: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Corporatetax45th Transcript from the hearing: Tax Avoidance, Australian Senate Hearing, 22 August 2017 Share: ... Continue to full case

US vs. Cameco, July 2017, Settlement of $122th.

Canadian mining company, Cameco Corp, has settled a tax dispute and will pay the IRS $122,000 for income years 2009-2012. Cameco’s dispute with tax authorities relates to its offshore marketing structure and transfer pricing. Cameco sells uranium to its marketing subsidiary in Switzerland, which re-sells it to buyers, incurring less tax than the company would through its Canadian office. Cameco says it has a marketing subsidiary in Switzerland because most customers are located outside Canada. Share: ... Continue to full case
Tanzania vs. Acacia Mining Plc, July 2017, $150 billion tax bill

Tanzania vs. Acacia Mining Plc, July 2017, $150 billion tax bill

The London-based gold mining firm, Acacia Mining Plc, the largest mining company operating in Tanzania, was in July 2017 issued a $190 billion tax bill. The bill is split into $40 billion in unpaid taxes and an additional $150 billion in interest and penalties. The case is based on the findings of government-appointed committees. Following the release of a government-ordered audit of the mining industry, Acacia Mining was  accused of operating illegally in the country and tax evasion. The charge covers alleged under-declared export revenues from the Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines over periods between 2000 and 2017. For its part, Acacia, while refuting the government’s findings, “re-iterates that it has fully declared all revenues”. Share: ... Continue to full case
South Africa vs Sasol, 30 June 2017, Tax Court, Case No. TC-2017-06 - TCIT 13065

South Africa vs Sasol, 30 June 2017, Tax Court, Case No. TC-2017-06 – TCIT 13065

The taxpayer is registered and incorporated in the Republic of South Africa and carries on business in the petrochemical industry. It has some of its subsidiaries in foreign jurisdictions. Business activities include the importation and refinement of crude oil. This matter concerns the analysis of supply agreements entered into between the XYZ Corp and some of its foreign subsidiaries. It thus brings to fore, inter alia the application of the South African developing fiscal legal principles, namely, residence based taxation, section 9D of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 and other established principles of tax law, such as anti-tax avoidance provisions and substance over form. Tax avoidance is the use of legal methods to modify taxpayer’s financial situation to reduce the amount of tax that is payable SARS’s ground of assessment is that the XYZ Group structure constituted a transaction, operation or scheme as ... Continue to full case

Australia vs Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, April 2017 – Going to Court

Singapore marketing hubs are being used by large multinational companies — and billions of dollars in related-party transactions that are being funnelled through the hubs each year. The Australian Tax Office has issued claims of substantial unpaid taxes to mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have revealed through the Senate inquiry they have been issued amended assessments for tax, interest and penalties of $522 million and $107 million respectively. These claims will be challenged in court. The cases centres on the use of commodity trading/marketing hubs established in Singapore colloquially known as the Singapore Sling. The Australian taxation commissioner alleges Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton is using subsidiaries in Singapore to reduce the taxes in Australia. It has been revealed that from 2006 to 2014, BHP Billiton sold $US210 billion worth of resources to its Singapore subsidiary. That was ... Continue to full case
Russia vs Dulisma Oil, January 2017, Russian Court Case No. A40-123426 / 16-140-1066

Russia vs Dulisma Oil, January 2017, Russian Court Case No. A40-123426 / 16-140-1066

This case relates to sales of crude oil from the Russian company, Dulisma Oil,  to an unrelated trading company, Concept Oil Ltd, registered in Hong Kong. The Russian tax authorities found that the price at which oil was sold deviated from quotations published by the Platts price reporting agency. They found that the prices for particular deliveries had been lower than the arm’s length price and issued a tax assessment and penalties of RUB 177 million. Dulisma Oil had set the prices using quotations published by Platts, which is a common practice in crude oil trading. The contract price was determined as the mean of average quotations for Dubai crude on publication days agreed upon by the parties, minus a differential determined before the delivery date “on the basis of the situation prevailing on the market”. Transfer pricing documentation had not been prepared, and the company also failed ... Continue to full case
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