Poland vs A S.A., June 2021, Provincial Administrative Court, Case No I SA/Gl 1649/20

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The business activity of A S.A. was wholesale of pharmaceutical products to external pharmacies, hospitals, wholesalers (including: to affiliated wholesalers).

The tax authority had noted that the company’s name had been changed in FY 2013, and a loss in the amount of PLN […] had been reported in the company’s tax return.

An audit revealed that the Company had transferred significant assets (real estate) to a related entity on non-arm’s length terms. The same real estate was then going forward made available to the company on a fee basis under lease and tenancy agreements.

The tax authority issued an assessment where a “restructuring fee” in the amount of PLN […] was added to the taxable income, reflecting the amount which would have been achieved if the transaction had been agreed between independent parties.

According to the company the tax authority was not entitled at all to examine the compliance of the terms of these transactions with the terms that would have been agreed between hypothetical independent entities, as the transactions in question were in fact concluded precisely between independent entities. (SKA companies were not CIT taxpayers in 2012, so they did not meet the definition of a “domestic entity” referred to in the aforementioned provision, and therefore a transaction between “related entities” cannot be said to have taken place).

Moreover, the institution of “re-characterisation” of a controlled transaction into a proper transaction (according to the authority),could only be applied to transactions taking place after 1 January 2019, pursuant to Article 11e, Section 4 of the A.l.t.p. introduced (from that date).

Judgement of the Court
The Court decided predominantly in favor of A S.A. and remanded the case back to the tax authorities.

“The applicant in the course of the case referred to the judgment of the WSA in Warsaw of 18 December 2017, III SA/Wa 3661/16 (approved by the NSA in its judgment of 26 November 2020, II FSK 1919/18). The individual interpretation analysed there by the Court assessed a transaction (from 2012) concluded between a limited liability company and a general partnership. According to the WSA in Warsaw, the provisions of Article 11(4) in conjunction with Article 11(1) of the A.l.t.d.o.p. in the wording in force until 31 December 2014 may only be applied to transactions concluded between related parties – ‘domestic entities’ within the meaning of Article 11 of the A.l.t.d.o.p., and the tax authorities may only assess the income of related parties. The wording of Art. 11 of the A.l.t.p. indicates that it is intended to allow the tax authorities to estimate the income of related parties, if these parties, in transactions concluded between themselves, establish or impose terms and conditions that differ from those that would be established between independent parties, leading to an understatement of income. However, there are no grounds for this provision to be applied to transactions concluded by unrelated entities (a limited liability company and a general partnership) solely for the reason that tax on revenue from participation in a partnership is paid by its partners who are also members of the applicant’s management board. Indeed, it was only the provisions introduced by the Act of 29 August 2014 amending the Corporate Income Tax Act, the Personal Income Tax Act and certain other acts, which entered into force on 1 January 2015, that defined an “affiliated entity” as a natural person, a legal person or an organisational unit without legal personality that meets the conditions set out in the Act. If a contrary position were to be adopted

Contrary to the authority’s assertions, these rulings do not concern a different factual situation. Although the audited interpretation concerned the necessity to prepare documentation pursuant to Art. 9a of the A.l.t.c., the applicant also directly inquired about classifying the applicant as an entity related to the general partnership. The courts of both instances were firmly in favour of the absence of such a link (dependence) between a capital company and a partnership, in terms of entering into mutual transactions, within the meaning of Article 11 of the A.l.t.p. in the wording in force until 31 December 2014.
Thus, as shown above, the application of Article 11 of the A.l.t.d.o.p. in the present case was un-authorised, which makes it timely to consider the application in the analysed factual state of the general principles arising from Article 14 of the A.l.t.d.o.p. and Chapter 3 of this Act (tax deductible costs), which the authorities, for obvious reasons, have not undertaken so far.”

“When reconsidering the case, the authority, taking into account the comments presented above, will issue an appropriate decision, containing in the justification of the decision all the elements referred to in Article 210 § 1 of the Polish Civil Code, including those arising from the cited resolution of the Supreme Administrative Court.”

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