Netherlands vs Hunkemöller B.V., July 2021, Supreme Court, Case No ECLI:NL:2021:1152

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In 2011 a Dutch group “Hunkemöller BV” acquired “Target BV” for EUR 135 million. The acquisition was financed by four French affiliates “FCPRs” in the Dutch Group – EUR 60,345,000 in the form of convertible instruments (intercompany debt) and the remainder in the form of equity.

The convertible instruments carried an interest rates of 13 percent.

The four French FCPRs were considered transparent for French tax purposes, but non-transparent for Dutch tax purposes. Hence the interest payments were deducted from the taxable income reported by the Group in the Netherlands, but the interest income was not taxed in France – the structure thus resulted in a tax mismatch.

The Dutch tax authorities argued that the interest payments should not be deductible as the setup of the financing structure constituted abuse of law; the financing structure was set up in this particular manner to get around a Dutch anti-abuse rule which limits interest deduction on loans from affiliated entities in respect of certain “abusive transactions”.

See the preliminary AG Opinion here

Decision of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the tax authority.

The aim and purpose of the law is to prevent the levy of corporate income tax becoming arbitrarily and continuously obstructed through bringing together the profits of a business on the one hand (i.e. through forming a CIT fiscal unity) and artificially creating interest charges on the other (profit-drainage), by using legal acts which are not necessary to the achievement of the commercial objectives of the taxpayer and which can only attributed to the overriding motive of producing the intended tax benefits.

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Netherlands vs Corp 160721 Case No ECLI_NL_HR_2021_1152

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