Poland vs Shared Service Center, February 2020, Administrative Court, SA/PO 935/19

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A shared service center in Poland both provided intra-group services to the group and in doing so also received and paid for services from other group companies.

At issue was payments for the services that the Shared Service Center in Poland received.

Under some circumstances intra-group service costs are non-deductible in Poland according to local anti-avoidance provisions aimed at base eroding payments, and according to the tax authorities the payments for intra group services received by the Shared Service Center were non-deductible according to these anti-avoidance provisions.

The tax authorities had considered that the payments for the received services were non-deductible according to these provisions.

Court decision
Service costs that are directly connected with provision of services that generate income, and are included in the base for remuneration of the services provided are deductable and thus not covered by the non-deduction provisions.

The Company’s revenues in connection with the support provided to related entities (domestic and foreign) was calculated based on the net transaction margin method or cost plus. This means that the cmpany determines the cost base (operating costs and in the case of the net transaction margin method general administrative costs) allocated appropriately to each recipient of the service to define revenues from services provided to related entities, and it is the cost base that is key to determine the Company’s remuneration for a given service.

According to the Company, it operates a shared services center, and therefore provides support services. Therefore, the company bears a number of costs that are oriented towards the provision of the service for the person ordering the service. Although the costs incurred by the Company may have the nature of indirect costs (in accounting terms), in a business sense, individual cost elements affect the quality and nature of the service provided for the party ordering the service. This is the activity of shared service centers, which are cost centers that, through the skilful use of synergies, are able to create value (including value at the level of costs) for the service provider.

The condition for excluding expenditure from cost limitation is that the expenditure as a tax deductible cost is directly related to the act of producing or purchasing a good or providing a service. In this case, a language interpretation outlines the boundaries of other interpretations, including functional ones.

The interpretation of the provision of art. 15e paragraph 11 point 1, made by the authority in an unacceptable manner, inconsistent with the content of the norm contained therein, excludes service providers from the right to exclude from cost limitation referred to in art. 15e paragraph 1, despite meeting the conditions of this exclusion.

The service expenditures were not artificial or economically unjustified, which should be counteracted by limiting costs (and thus limiting the right to classify expenditure as tax deductible costs). Therefore, it should be emphasized that functional (including teleological) interpretation of the limitation of being classified as tax deductible costs (Article 15e (1), which has a clear connection with the exclusion of this limitation (Article 15e (11) updop), leads to the conclusion, that the purpose of the restriction was to counteract aggressive optimization, the lack of economic justification for the expenditure incurred. This means that the exclusion of a restriction must be caused by the lack of such features of the expenditure incurred when considering the functional and systemic interpretation

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