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Category: Tax Treaties

Many countries have entered into tax treaties (also called double tax agreements, or DTAs) with other countries to avoid or mitigate double taxation. Such treaties may cover a range of taxes including income taxes, inheritance taxes, value added taxes, or other taxes.

Besides bilateral treaties, multilateral treaties are also in place. For example, European Union (EU) countries are parties to a multilateral agreement with respect to value added taxes under auspices of the EU, while a joint treaty on mutual administrative assistance of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is open to all countries.

Tax treaties tend to reduce taxes of one treaty country for residents of the other treaty country to reduce double taxation of the same income.

European Commission vs McDonald, December 2018, European Commission Case no. SA.38945

The European Commission found that Luxembourg did not grant illegal State aid to McDonald’s as a consequence of the exemption of income attributed to a US branch.

…it is not established that the Luxembourg tax authorities misapplied the Luxembourg – US double taxation treaty. Therefore, on the basis of the doubts raised in the Opening Decision and taking into account its definition of the reference system, the Commission cannot establish that the contested rulings granted a selective advantage to McD Europe by misapplying the Luxembourg – US double taxation treaty.

Australia vs Satyam Computer Services Limited, October 2018, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 172

The question in this case was whether payments received by Satyam Computer Services Limited (now Tech Mahindra Ltd) from its Australian clients – that were royalties for the purposes of Article 12 of the tax treaty with India, but not otherwise royalties under Australian tax law – were deemed to be Australian source income by reason of Article 23 of the tax treaty and ss 4 and 5 of the International Tax Agreements Act 1953 and therefore […]

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 […]

Canada vs Sifto Canada Corp, March 2017, Tax Court, Case No TCC 37

The issue before the court was whether the Canadian revenue service had the ability to issue the second reassessments given the Canadian and US competent authorities subsequently agreed on a MAP settelment. The Tax Court found that a settlement agreed to via the competent authority precluded a subsequent tax-reassessment that attempted to further increase the taxpayer’s income. Share:

Germany vs Capital GmbH, June 2015, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No I R 29/14

The German subsidiary of a Canadian group lent significant sums to its under-capitalised UK subsidiary. The debt proved irrecoverable and was written off in 2002 when the UK company ceased trading. At the time, such write-offs were permitted subject to adherence to the principle of dealing at arm’s length. In its determination of profits on October 31, 2002, the German GmbH made a partial write-off of the repayment claim against J Ltd. in the amount […]

Norway vs. GE Healthcare AS, May 2015, Supreme Court , HRD-2015-01008-A

The Supreme Court concluded that the Norwegian taxation of incomes in Ireland were not in violation of the treaty Article 7. 1 and showed that the double taxation which thus arose, in Article 24. 2 gave GE Healthcare AS a tax deduction in Norway equal to the taxes paid by income in Ireland. Such deduction was made by tax decision in the case. GE Healthcare AS was thus protected against the overall tax burden in […]

Switzerland vs DK Bank, May 2015, Federal Supreme Court, Case No BGE 141 II 447)

The Federal Supreme Court denied the refund of withholding taxes claimed by a Danish bank on the basis of the double tax treaty between Denmark and Switzerland due to the lack of beneficial ownership. The Danish bank entered into total return swap agreements with different clients. For hedging purposes, the Danish bank purchased a certain amount of the underlying assets (companies listed in the Swiss stock exchange) and received dividend distributions from these Swiss companies. […]

Germany vs C-GmbH, December 2014, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No I R 23/13

C-GmbH was the sole shareholder of the I-GmbH. In 2000, I-GmbH, together with another company, set up a US company for the development of the US market, H-Inc., In which the I-GmbH held 60 per cent of the shares. H-Inc. had recived equity from the two shareholders and also received a bank loan of approx. $ 1.5 million (USD), which the shareholders secured through guarantees. As of December 31, 2003, the balance sheet of H-Inc. […]

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 […]

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