G.K. Ktf was a subsidiary of a company registered in the United Kingdom. On 29 December 2010 G.K. Ktf entered into a loan agreement with a Dutch affiliate, G.B. BV, under which G.B. BV, as lender, granted a subordinated unsecured loan of HUF 3 billion to G.K. Ktf. Interest was set at a fixed annual rate of 11.32%, but interest was only payable when G.K. Ktf earned a ‘net income’ from its activities. The maturity date of the loan was 2060. The loan was used by G.K. Ktf to repay a debt under a loan agreement concluded with a Dutch bank in 2006. The bank loan was repaid in 2017/2018.
The interest paid by G.K. Ktf under the contract was deducted as an expense of HUF 347,146,667 in 2011 and HUF 345,260,000 in 2012. But, in accordance with Dutch tax law – the so called participation exemption – G.B BV did not include the interest as taxable income in its tax return.
The tax authorities carried out an audit for FY 2011-2012 and by decision of 17 January 2018 an assessment was issued. According to the assessment G.K. Ktf had underpaid taxes in an amount of HUF 88,014,000. A penalty of HUF 43,419,000 and a late payment penalty of HUF 5,979,000 had been added.
According to the tax authorities, a contract concluded by a member of a group of companies for a term of more than 50 years, with an interest payment condition other than that of a normal loan and without capitalisation of interest in the event of default, does not constitute a loan but a capital contribution for tax purposes. This is indicated by the fact that it is subordinated to all other creditors, that the payment of interest is conditional on the debtor’s business performance and that no security is required. The Dutch tax authorities have confirmed that in the Netherlands the transaction is an informal capital injection and that the interest paid to the lender is tax exempt income under the ‘participation exemption’. Hence the interest paid cannot be deducted from the tax base. The parties intended the transaction to achieve a tax advantage.
Not agreeing with the decision G.K. Ktf took the case to court. The Court of first instance upheld the decision of the tax authorities. The case was then appealed to the Court of Appeal which resulted in the case being remanded to the court of first instance for reconsideration. After reconsidering the case, a new decision was issued in 2019 where the disallowed deduction of interest was upheld with reference to TPG 1995 para. 1.64, 1.65 and 1.66. The Court of first instance also found that the interest rate on the loan from BV was several times higher than the arm’s length interest rate.
G.K Ktf then filed a new appeal with the Court of appeal.
Judgement of the Court of Appeal.
The Court held that the contested part of the tax authority’s decision and the final judgment of the court of first instance were unlawful and decided in favor of G.K. Ktf.
For the years in question, legislation allowing for recharacterisation had still not been enacted in Hungary, and the conditions for applying the “abuse of rights” provision that was in force, was not established by the tax authorities.Hungary vs G.K. Ktf. Kfv.35306_2021_9