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.

India vs TMW, August 2019, Income Tax Tribunal, Case No ITA No 879

India vs TMW, August 2019, Income Tax Tribunal, Case No ITA No 879

The facts in brief are that TMW ASPF CYPRUS (hereinafter referred to as ‘assessee’) is a private limited company incorporated in Cyprus and is engaged in the business of making investments in the real estate sector. The company in the year 2008 had made investments in independent third-party companies in India (hereinafter collectively known as ‘investee companies’) engaged in real estate development vide fully convertible debentures (FCCDs). It was these investments that made the investee companies an associated enterprise of the assessee as per TP provisions. The assessee had also entered agreements, according to which the assessee was entitled to a coupon rate of 4%. Further, after the conversion of the FCCDs into equity shares, the promoter of Indian Companies would buy back at an agreed option price. The option price would be such that the investor gets the original investment paid on subscription to ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs T and Y Denmark, February 2019, European Court of Justice, Cases C-116/16 and C-117/16

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 questions related to the conditions under which exemption from withholding tax can be denied on dividend payments to related parties. The European Court of Justice has now answered these questions in favor of the Danish Tax Ministry; Benefits granted under the Parent-Subsidiary Directive can be denied where fraudulent or abusive tax avoidance is involved. Quotations from cases C-116/16 and C-117/16: “The general principle of EU law that EU law cannot ... Continue to full case
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

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 the proceedings in the Danish court system the European Court of Justice was asked a number of questions related to the conditions under which exemption from withholding tax can be denied on interest payments to related parties. The European Court of Justice has now answered these questions in favor of the Danish Tax Ministry; Benefits granted under the Interest and Royalty Directive can be denied where fraudulent or abusive tax ... Continue to full case
Italy vs Dolce & Gabbana, December 2018, Supreme Court, Case no 33234/2018

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 & Gabbana in Milan, and not in Luxembourg, where there were no administrative structure and only one employee with mere secretarial duties. Dolce & Gobbana disargeed with these findings and brought the case to court. In the first and second instance the courts ruled in favor of the Italian Revenue Agency, but the Italian Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dolce & Gabbana. According to the Supreme Court, the fact ... Continue to full case
European Commission vs McDonald, December 2018, European Commission Case no. SA.38945

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 ... Continue to full case
Italy vs CDC srl, December 2018, Italian Supreme Court, Case No 32255/2018

Italy vs CDC srl, December 2018, Italian Supreme Court, Case No 32255/2018

A refund of withholding tax on dividend payments from an Italien subsidiary, CDC srl, was claimed by the parent company in Luxembourg, CDC Net SA. The parent company had been subject to income tax in Luxembourg as required by the EU Directive, but in Luxembourg there were no actual taxation of the dividends. The refund was denied as, according to the authorities, the Luxembourg company did not meet the requirements of the EU Directive due to lack of actual taxation of the dividends in Luxembourg. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities and denied the refund of withholding taxes under the European Parent Subsidiary Directive (Directive 90/435/EEC, Article 5, paragraph 1, ) as no double taxation existed due to the dividend exemption regime in Luxembourg. Click here for translation Italy Dividend Supreme Court 2018 Share: ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs X B.V., November 2018, Supreme Court, Case No 17/03918

Netherlands vs X B.V., November 2018, Supreme Court, Case No 17/03918

Company X B.V. held all the shares in the Irish company A. The Tax Agency in the Netherlands claimed that the Irish company A qualified as a “low-taxed investment participation”. The court agreed, as company A was not subject to a taxation of 10 per cent or more in Ireland. The Tax Agency also claimed that X B.V.’s profit should include a hidden dividend due to company A’s providing an interest-free loan to another associated Irish company E. The court agreed. Irish company E had benefited from the interest-free loan and this benefit should be regarded as a dividend distribution. It was then claimed by company X B.V, that the tax treaty between the Netherlands and Ireland did not permit including hidden dividends in X’s profit. The Supreme Court disagreed and found that the hidden dividend falls within the scope of the term “dividends” in ... Continue to full case
Australia vs Satyam Computer Services Limited, October 2018, Federal Court of Australia, Case No FCAFC 172

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 included in the company’s assessable income for Australian tax purposes. The answer provided by the Federal Court was: Yes. Click here for translation 2018FCAFC0172 Share: ... Continue to full case
Canada vs ALTA Energy Luxemburg, September 2018, Case no 2014-4359(IT)G

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 hydrocarbons from an area of the Duvernay formation designated under licenses granted by the government of Alberta. The Canadian tax authorities denied that the exemption applied and assessed ALTA Energy accordingly. Article 13(5) of the Canada-Luxembourg Tax Treaty is a distributive rule of last application. It applies only in the case where the capital gain is not otherwise taxable under paragraphs (1) to (4) of Article 13 of the Treaty ... Continue to full case
OECD Model Tax Convention 2017

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 while helping to prevent tax evasion and avoidance. The OECD Model also provides a means for settling on a uniform basis the most common problems that arise in the field of international double taxation. The 2017 edition of the OECD Model mainly reflects a consolidation of the treaty-related measures resulting from the work on the OECD/G20 BEPS Project under Action 2 (Neutralising the Effects of Hybrid Mismatch Arrangements), Action 6 ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Sifto Canada Corp, March 2017, Tax Court, Case No TCC 37

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 settlement. 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. Canada vs Sifto Canada Corp, 2017 Case No TCC 37 Share: ... Continue to full case
Germany vs Capital GmbH, June 2015, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No  I R 29/14

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 of 717.700 €. The tax authorities objected that the unsecured loans were not at arm’s length. The tax authorities subjected the write-down of the claims from the loan, which the authorities considered to be equity-replacing, to the deduction prohibition of the Corporation Tax Act. The authorities further argued that if this was not the case, then, due to the lack of loan collateral, there would be a profit adjustment pursuant ... Continue to full case
Norway vs. GE Healthcare AS, May 2015, Supreme Court , HRD-2015-01008-A

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 Norway and Ireland were greater than if the income were only taxed in Norway. There was no reason to limit the taxation of GE Healthcare AS beyond this. Click here for translation Norway vs GE-Healthcare-AS-sak-2014-1968-HRD-2015-01008-A Share: ... Continue to full case
Switzerland vs DK Bank, May 2015, Federal Supreme Court, Case No BGE 141 II 447)

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. The Federal Supreme Court was of the opinion that the Danish bank lost the right for refund of the withholding taxes on the dividends received based on the DTT-DK/CH. According to the Federal Supreme Court, the Danish Bank could not be qualified as the beneficial owner of these shares. The Federal Supreme Court denied the beneficial ownership on the grounds that the Danish bank was, in fact, obliged to transfer ... Continue to full case
Germany vs C-GmbH, December 2014, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No I R 23/13

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. showed a deficit not covered by equity of approx. 950,000 USD. On June 30 , 2004,  I-GmbH became the sole shareholder of H-Inc. Then the bank put the H-Inc. granted loans due. Since H-Inc. was not able to serve the bank loan, C-GmbH paid the bank. As of December 31, 2004, the balance sheet of H-Inc. showed a deficit not covered by equity of approx. $ 450,000 , which at December ... 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
Germany vs. US taxpayer. October 2013, Supreme Tax Court judgment IX R 25/12

Germany vs. US taxpayer. October 2013, Supreme Tax Court judgment IX R 25/12

The Supreme Tax Court has held that the costs incurred by a taxpayer in connection with a tax treaty mutual agreement proceeding are not costs of earning the relevant income, but has left open a possible deduction as “unusual expenses”. A US resident realised a gain on the sale of a share in a GmbH. The German tax office sought to tax the gain, but the taxpayer objected on the grounds that it was taxable in the US under the double tax treaty. This tax office did not accept this objection, so a mutual agreement proceeding was requested in an effort to clear the issue. Ultimately, the two governments agreed to split the taxing right in the ratio 60:40 in favour of Germany. However, the taxpayer had incurred various consultancy and legal costs in the course of the process and these should, he claimed, be deducted ... Continue to full case
Canada vs TeleTech Canada Inc., May 2013, Federal Court, Case No. T-788-11

Canada vs TeleTech Canada Inc., May 2013, Federal Court, Case No. T-788-11

TeleTech Canada Inc.  is seeking judicial review of what it says is the continuing refusal of the Canada Revenue Agency to provide it with relief from double taxation, allegedly in breach of the CRA’s obligations under articles IX and XXVI of the Convention between Canada and the United States of America with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital, 26 September 1980, Can. T.S.  1984 No. 15, as implemented by the Canada-United States Tax Convention Act, 1984, S.C. 1984, c. 20. In its application, TeleTech Canada seeks an order of mandamus compelling the CRA to accept its application for competent authority consideration and to provide the company with relief from double taxation under Article IX of the Treaty by submitting the matter to binding arbitration, pursuant to the provisions of Article XXVI of the Treaty. The Court concluded that there has been no “continuing ... Continue to full case
Germany vs. Corp. December 2012, Federal Tax Court 11.10.2012, I R 75/11

Germany vs. Corp. December 2012, Federal Tax Court 11.10.2012, I R 75/11

A GmbH agreed at year end to accept management charges from its Dutch parent for services performed during the year. The legal question was the relationship between arm’s-length principle as included in double tax treaties and income correction norms in German tax law. The court rejected a tax office assessment attempt on the basis of a hidden distribution of profits because of a delay in agreeing management charges in writing, saying that the double tax treaty related party provision bases the arm’s length standard on amount, rather than on the reason for, or documentation, of a transaction. Click here for translation Germany-vs-Corp-October-2012-BUNDESFINANZHOF-Urteil-IR-75-11- Share: ... Continue to full case
Norge vs. Dell Norge. December 2011, HRD saknr 2011-755

Norge vs. Dell Norge. December 2011, HRD saknr 2011-755

The Irish company Dell Products was taxable in Norway for years 2003-2006. The issue was whether Dell Products had a permenent establishment in Norway, cf. Article 5. 5 in the tax treaty between Ireland and Norway from 2000. Dell Products sold PC’s and equipment by a commission agreement in which the Irish company was Principal and the Norwegian company Dell AS was commissioner. Both the companies are part of the Dell group. Dell AS sold to customers who were large enterprises and the public sector. It was not disputed that the agreement was not legally binding on Dell Products in relation to customers. Dell Products would have a permanent establishment in Norway and may be taxable Norway, if Dell Norway had acted “on behalf of” and had the “authority to conclude contracts on behalf of the” Dell, ref. Tax Treaty Article 5. 5. Unlike the District Court and the Court ... Continue to full case
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