Category: Hearings and Investigations

The US Senate, Australian and British Parliament and the European Commission have all launched hearings and investigations into Tax Avoidance Schemes used by Multinational Groups.

Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Huhtamäki in Luxembourg

Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Huhtamäki in Luxembourg

The European Commission has now opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether tax rulings granted by Luxembourg to Finnish food and drink packaging company Huhtamäki may have given the company an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU State Aid rules. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Member States should not allow companies to set up arrangements that unduly reduce their taxable profits and give them an unfair advantage over their competitors. The Commission will carefully investigate Huhtamäki’s tax treatment in Luxembourg to assess whether it is in line with EU State aid rules.” The Commission’s formal investigation concerns three tax rulings issued by Luxembourg to the Luxembourg-based company Huhtalux S.à.r.l. in 2009, 2012 and 2013. The 2009 tax ruling was disclosed as part of the “Luxleaks” investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2014. Huhtalux is ... Continue to full case
The European Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Nike and Converse in the Netherlands

The European Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Nike and Converse in the Netherlands

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether tax rulings granted by the Netherlands to Nike may have given the company an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU State aid rules. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Member States should not allow companies to set up complex structures that unduly reduce their taxable profits and give them an unfair advantage over competitors. The Commission will investigate carefully the tax treatment of Nike in the Netherlands, to assess whether it is in line with EU State aid rules. At the same time, I welcome the actions taken by the Netherlands to reform their corporate taxation rules and to help ensure that companies will operate on a level playing field in the EU.” Nike is a US based company involved worldwide in the design, marketing and manufacturing of ... 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
European Commission concludes on investigation into Luxembourg's tax treatment of McDonald's under EU state aid regulations, September 2018

European Commission concludes on investigation into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of McDonald’s under EU state aid regulations, September 2018

Following an investigation into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of McDonald’s under EU state aid regulations since 2015, the EU Commission concluded that the tax rulings granted by Luxembourg to McDonald’s in 2009 did not provide illegal state aid. According to the Commission, the law allowing McDonald’s to escape taxation on franchise income in Luxembourg – and the US – did not amount to an illegal selective advantage under EU law. The double non-taxation of McDonald’s franchise income was due to a mismatch between the laws of the United States and Luxembourg. See the 2015 announcement of formal opening of the investigations into McDonald’s tax agreements with Luxembourg from the EU Commission EU vs McDonal IP-18-5831_EN Share: ... Continue to full case
European Commission's investigations into member state transfer pricing and tax ruling practices

European Commission’s investigations into member state transfer pricing and tax ruling practices

Since June 2013, the European Commission has been investigating tax ruling practices of EU Member States. A Task Force was set up in summer 2013 to follow up on allegations of favourable tax treatment of certain companies, in particular in the form of unilateral tax rulings. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) provides that “any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market.”. The State aid rules ensures that the functioning of the internal market is not distorted by anticompetitive behavior favouring some to the detriment of others. In June 2014 the Commission initiated a series of State aid investigations on ... Continue to full case
Tax avoidance in Australia

Tax avoidance in Australia

In May 2018 the final report on corporate tax avoidance in Australia was published by the Australian Senate. The report contains the findings, conclusions and recommendations based on 4 years of hearings and investigations into tax avoidance practices by multinationals in Australia. Australian-final-report-on-tax-avoidance Share: ... 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
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
Uncovering Low Tax Jurisdictions and Conduit Jurisdictions

Uncovering Low Tax Jurisdictions and Conduit Jurisdictions

By Javier Garcia-Bernardo, Jan Fichtner, Frank W. Takes, & Eelke M. Heemskerk Multinational corporations use highly complex structures of parents and subsidiaries to organize their operations and ownership. Offshore Financial Centers (OFCs) facilitate these structures through low taxation and lenient regulation, but are increasingly under scrutiny, for instance for enabling tax avoidance. Therefore, the identifcation of OFC jurisdictions has become a politicized and contested issue. We introduce a novel data-driven approach for identifying OFCs based on the global corporate ownership network, in which over 98 million firms (nodes) are connected through 71 million ownership relations. This granular firm-level network data uniquely allows identifying both sink-OFCs and conduit-OFCs. Sink-OFCs attract and retain foreign capital while conduit-OFCs are attractive intermediate destinations in the routing of international investments and enable the transfer of capital without taxation. We identify 24 sink-OFCs. In addition, a small set of countries – ... Continue to full case
US Treasury response to European Commission for recent State Aid Actions, 2016

US Treasury response to European Commission for recent State Aid Actions, 2016

The US Treasury in 2016 strongly criticized the European Commission for it’s state aid actions relating to US Corporations; Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, and McDonald’s. US Treasury white paper of August 2016 US White-Paper-EC-State-Aid August 24, 2016 US Treasury letter of February 2016 US Treasury letter of February 2016 EC state aid rulings Share: ... Continue to full case
European Commission opens formal investigation into Luxembourg's tax treatment of McDonald's under EU state aid regulations, December 2015

European Commission opens formal investigation into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of McDonald’s under EU state aid regulations, December 2015

The European Commission has formally opened an investigation into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of McDonald’s. Tax ruling granted by Luxembourg may have granted McDonald’s an advantageous tax treatment in breach of EU State aid rules On the basis of two tax rulings given by the Luxembourg authorities in 2009, McDonald’s Europe Franchising has paid no corporate tax in Luxembourg since then despite recording large profits (more than €250 million in 2013). These profits are derived from royalties paid by franchisees operating restaurants in Europe and Russia for the right to use the McDonald’s brand and associated services. The company’s head office in Luxembourg is designated as responsible for the company’s strategic decision-making, but the company also has two branches, a Swiss branch, which has a limited activity related to the franchising rights, and a US branch, which does not have any real activities. The royalties received ... Continue to full case
European Commission opens investigation of transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Amazon in Luxembourg, October 2014

European Commission opens investigation of transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Amazon in Luxembourg, October 2014

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether the decision by Luxembourg’s tax authorities with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by Amazon in Luxembourg comply with the EU rules on state aid. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties and the Member States concerned an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The tax ruling in favour of Amazon under investigation dates back to 2003 and is still in force. It applies to Amazon’s subsidiary Amazon EU Sàrl, which is based in Luxembourg and records most of Amazon’s European profits. Based on a methodology set by the tax ruling, Amazon EU Sàrl pays a tax deductible royalty to a limited liability partnership established in Luxembourg but which is not subject to corporate taxation in Luxembourg. As a result, most ... Continue to full case
US Senate Hearings on Offshore Profit Shifting and Abusive Tax Schemes 

US Senate Hearings on Offshore Profit Shifting and Abusive Tax Schemes 

See the documents from the US Senate hearings on offshore profit shifting and abusive tax schemes https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/issues/tax-havens-and-abusive-tax-schemes Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code – Part 1 (Microsoft & Hewlett-Packard) and Part 2 (Apple Inc.), Carl Levin’s opening statements. Profit Shifting Part 1, September 2012 OPENING, LEVIN-Carl US Senate hearing on Profit Shifting, May 2013, OPENING LEVIN-Carl Share: ... Continue to full case
UK Parliament, House of Commons, Committee of Public Accounts, Hearings on Tax Avoidance Schemes

UK Parliament, House of Commons, Committee of Public Accounts, Hearings on Tax Avoidance Schemes

Follow the work of the UK Parliament, House of Commons Committee of Public Account, on corporate tax avoidance schemes. http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/taxation/ Statements from Amazon, Google and Starbucks, November 2012 UK Parlement, September 2012 Google Amazon Starbucks Statement from Google June 2013 UK Parlement, June 2013, Tax Avoidance–Google Share: ... Continue to full case