Countries: United Kingdom

UK vs BlackRock, July 2022, Upper Tribunal, Case No [2022] UKUT 00199 (TCC)

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In 2009 the BlackRock Group acquired Barclays Global Investors for a total sum of $13,5bn. The price was paid in part by shares ($6.9bn) and in part by cash ($6.6bn). The cash payment was paid by BlackRock Holdco 5 LLC – a US Delaware Company tax resident in the UK – but funded by the parent company by issuing $4bn loan notes to the LLC. In the years following the acquisition Blackrock Holdco 5 LLC […]

UK vs NCL Investments Ltd, March 2022, UK Supreme Court, Case No [2022] UKSC 9

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The companies NCL Investments Ltd and Smith & Williamson Corporate Services Ltd (the Companies) had granted its employees stock options to acquire shares in the ultimate holding company, Smith & Williamson Holdings Limited (SWHL). The companies employ staff and make those staff available to other companies in the group in return for a fee. That fee is based on the costs that the companies incur in employing the staff, marked up with a profit element. […]

UK vs G E Financial Investments Ltd., June 2021, First-tier Tribunal, Case No [2021] UKFTT 210 (TC), TC08160

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The case concerned a complex financing structure within the General Electric Group. The taxpayer, GE Financial Investments Ltd (GEFI Ltd), a UK resident company was the limited partner in a Delaware limited partnership, of which, GE Financial Investments Inc (GEFI Inc) a Delaware corporation was the general partner. GEFI Ltd filed UK company tax returns for FY 2003-2008 in which the company claimed a foreign tax credit for US federal income tax. In total, US […]

UK vs GE Capital, April 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No [2021] EWCA Civ 534

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In 2005 an agreement was entered between the UK tax authority and GE Capital, whereby GE Capital was able to obtain significant tax benefits by routing billions of dollars through Australia, the UK and the US. HMRC later claimed, that GE Capital had failed to disclose all relevant information to HMRC prior to the agreement and therefore asked the High Court to annul the agreement. In December 2020 the High Court decided in favour of […]

UK vs GE Capital, December 2020, High Court, Case No [2020] EWHC 1716

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In 2005 an agreement was entered between the UK tax authority and GE Capital, whereby GE Capital was able to obtain significant tax benefits by routing billions of dollars through Australia, the UK and the US. HMRC later claimed, that GE Capital had failed to disclose all relevant information to HMRC prior to the agreement and therefore asked the High Court to annul the agreement. The High Court ruled that HMRC could pursue the claim […]

UK vs Blackrock, November 2020, First-tier Tribunal, Case No TC07920

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In 2009 the BlackRock Group acquired Barclays Global Investors for a total sum of $13,5bn . The price was paid in part by shares ($6.9bn) and in part by cash ($6.6bn). The cash payment was paid by BlackRock Holdco 5 LLC – a US Delaware Company tax resident in the UK – but funded by the parent company by issuing $4bn loan notes to the LLC. In the years following the acquisition Blackrock Holdco 5 […]

UK vs Total E&P North Sea UK Ltd, October 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/1656

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Companies carrying on “oil-related activities” are subject to both corporation tax and a “supplementary charge”. “Oil-related activities” are treated as a separate trade and the income from them represents “ring fence profits” on which corporation tax is charged. The “supplementary charge” is levied on “adjusted” ring fence profits, in calculating which financing costs are left out of account. Between 2006 and 2011, the supplementary charge amounted to 20% of adjusted ring fence profits. On 23 […]

UK vs Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited and Irish Nationwide Building Society, August 2020, Court of Appeal , Case No [2020] EWCA Civ 1128

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This case concerned deductibility of notional interest paid in 2003-7 by two permanent establishments in the UK to their Irish HQs. The loans – and thus interest expenses – had been allocated to the PEs as if they were separate entities. The UK tax authorities held that interest deductibility was restricted by UK tax law, which prescribed that PE’s has such equity and loan capital as it could reasonably be expected to have as a […]

UK vs GE Capital, July 2020, High Court, Case No RL-2018-000005

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GE Capital (GE) have been routing financial transactions (AUS $ 5 billion) related to GE companies in Australia via the UK in order to gain a tax advantage – by “triple dipping” in regards to interest deductions, thus saving billions of dollars in tax in Australia, the UK and the US. Before entering into these transactions, GE obtained clearance from HMRC that UK tax rules were met, in particular new “Anti-Arbitrage Rules” introduced in the […]

UK vs Bluecrest Capital Management, July 2020, First-Tier Tribunal – Tax Chamber, Case No TC07782

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In the case of BlueCrest Capital Management Cayman Limited (& others), the key issues involved partnership profit/loss allocations for mixed member partnerships and the associated anti-avoidance legislation – limitation on tax relief for interest on unallowable purpose loans and the sale of occupational income provisions. Judgement The Tribunal found that the sale of occupational income rules could apply to charge Income tax on partnership capital contributions. Although the arrangements  did have a commercial purpose (retention and […]

UK vs Union Castle Ltd, April 2020, UK Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2018/3003 and 3004

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Union Castle Ltd. claimed a tax deduction of £ 39 million related to losses on derivative contracts. After acquiring derivative contracts, Union Castle issued bonus A shares to it’s parent company, Caledonia, which carried a dividend equal to 95% of the cash-flows arising on the close-out of the contracts. Therefore Union Castle had written off 39 million of the value of the contracts in it’s accounts. The tax authorities disagreed that a tax loss had […]

UK vs Smith & Nephew, March 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/0521

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In the case of HMRC v Smith & Nephew Overseas Ltd, consideration was given to the “fairly represent” requirement in the loan relationship code. The dispute concerns each of the Smith & Nephew’s entitlement to set off foreign exchange losses against their liability to corporation tax. The exchanges loss arose as a result of Smith & Nephews changing their functional accounting currencies from sterling to US dollars on 23 December 2008 at a time when […]

UK vs Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited and Irish Nationwide Building Society, October 2019, UK Upper Tribunal, UKUT 0277 (TCC)

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This case concerned deductibility of notional interest paid in 2003-7 by two permanent establishments in the UK to their Irish HQs. The loans – and thus interest expenses – had been allocated to the PEs as if they were separate entities. The UK tax authorities held that interest deductibility was restricted by UK tax law, which prescribed that PE’s has such equity and loan capital as it could reasonably be expected to have as a […]

UK vs Oxford Instruments Ltd, April 2019, First-tier Tribunal, Case No. [2019] UKFTT 254 (TC)

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At issue in this case was UK loan relationship rules – whether a note issued as part of a structure for refinancing the US sub-group without generating net taxable interest income in the UK had an unallowable purpose and the extent of deductions referable to the unallowable purpose considered. The Court ruled in favor of the tax administration: “Did the $140m Promissory Note secure a tax advantage? 110.     In my view, the $140m Promissory Note secured […]

European Commission vs. UK, April 2019, European Commission, Case no C(2019) 2526 final

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Back in 2017 the European Commission opened an in-depth probe into a UK scheme that exempts certain transactions by multinational groups from the application of UK rules targeting tax avoidance. The EU commission concluded its investigations in a decision issued 2 April 2019. According to the decision the UK “Group Financing Exemption” is in breach of EU State aid rules. Under the Scheme foreign multinationals would benefit from tax exemption of profits related to payments […]

Glencore in $680 million Transfer Pricing Dispute with HMRC

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In a publication of preliminary results for 2018 mining giant Glencore reports a major tax assessment issued by HMRC in December 2018. “UK Tax Audit In December 2018, HMRC issued formal transfer pricing, permanent establishment and diverted profits tax assessments for the 2008 – 2017 tax years, amounting to $680 million. The Group intends to appeal and vigorously contest these assessments, following, over the years, various legal opinions received and detailed analysis conducted, supporting its […]

Blizzard Gaming involved in major Tranfer Pricing disputes

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US Gaming Giant, Activision Blizzard Inc. – known for games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo – is and has been involved in several major transfer pricing disputes – with the US, French, UK, and Swedish tax authorities. In a 10Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission from November 2018 the following information was provided by the company on pending tax cases. “Activision Blizzard’s 2009 through 2016 tax years remain open to […]

UK vs GDF Suez Teesside, October 2018, UK Court of Appeal, Case No [2018] EWCA Civ 2075

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Following the collapse of Enron in 2001, Goldman Sachs and Cargill had purchased a company previously known as Teeside Power Ltd. Teesside Power had claimed hundreds of millions of pounds were owed to the plant by other Enron subsidiaries. In a scheem devised by Ernst and Young, Teesside Power set up a Jersey-based company to avoid paying corporation tax on about £200 million by converting the receivables into shares. The Court of Appeal ruled in […]

UK vs Union Castle Ltd, October 2018, UK Upper Tribunal, Case No 0316 (TCC)

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Union Castle Ltd. claimed a tax deduction of £ 39 million related to losses on derivative contracts. After acquiring derivative contracts, Union Castle issued bonus A shares to it’s parent company, Caledonia, which carried a dividend equal to 95% of the cash-flows arising on the close-out of the contracts. Therefore Union Castle had written off 39 million of the value of the contracts in it’s accounts. The tax authorities disagreed that a tax loss had […]

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

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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 […]

UK vs. Apple, Jan. 2018, Payment of £136 million

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Apple has paid an additional £136m taxes in a settlement with the UK. The settlement is revealed in Apple Europe’s 2017 accounts. “Following an extensive audit by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) the Company agreed to pay a corporate income tax adjustment of £136m covering prior years up to September 26, 2015. This payment of additional tax and interest reflects the Company’s increased activity and is recognized in the current financial period which ended […]

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

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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 […]

UK vs. Ladbroke Group, February 2017, case nr. UT/2016/0012 & 0013

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Tax avoidance scheme. Use of total return swap over shares in subsidiary to create a deemed creditor relationship. Value of shares depressed by novating liability for large loans to subsidiary. The scheme used by Ladbroke UK involved a total return swap and a novation of loans to extract reserves. Used to achieve a “synthetic transfer” of the JBB business to LB&G. In essence, this involved extracting the surplus which had accumulated in LGI and transferring it to […]

UK vs. DSG Retail (Dixon case), Tax Tribunal, Case No. UKFT 31

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This case concerns the sale of extended warranties to third-party customers of Dixons, a large retail chain in the UK selling white goods and home electrical products. The DSG group captive (re)insurer in the Isle of Man (DISL) insured these extended warranties for DSG’s UK customers. Until 1997 this was structured via a third-party insurer (Cornhill) that reinsured 95% on to DISL. From 1997 onwards the warranties were offered as service contracts that were 100% […]

UK vs. W. T. Ramsay Limited, March 1981, HOUSE OF LORDS, Case No. HL/PO/JU/18/241

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In the case of Ramsay a substance over form-doctrine was endorsed by the House of Lords (predecessor of the “UK Supreme Court” established in 2009). The “Ramsay principle” has since been applied in other cases involving tax avoidance schemes in the UK, where transactions have been constructed purely for tax purposes. Statutes referring to “commercial” concepts have also been applied in tax cases where transactions have lacked economic substance.  

UK vs. Duke of Westminster, May 1935, HOUSE OF LORDS, Case No. 19 TC 490, [1935] UKHL TC_19_490

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The Duke of Westminster’s gardener was paid weekly, but to reduce tax, his solicitors drew up a deed in which it was said that the earnings were not really wages, but were an annual payment payable by weekly instalments. The tax authorities held that for tax purposes the true relationship and the true nature of these payments were decisive – substance over form. Judgment of the House of Lords The House of Lords decided in […]