Tag: Belgium

Sweden vs Flir Commercial Systems AB, January 2022, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No 2434–2436-20

Sweden vs Flir Commercial Systems AB, January 2022, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No 2434–2436-20

In 2012, Flir Commercial Systems AB sold intangible assets from a branch in Belgium and subsequently claimed a tax relief of more than SEK 2 billion in fictitious Belgian tax due to the sale. The Swedish Tax Agency decided not to allow relief for the Belgian “tax”, and issued a tax assessment where the relief of approximately SEK 2 billion was denied and a surcharge of approximately SEK 800 million was added. An appeal was filed with the Administrative Court, In March 2020 the Administrative Court concluded that the Swedish Tax Agency was correct in not allowing relief for the fictitious Belgian tax. In the opinion of the Administrative Court, the Double tax agreement prevents Belgium from taxing increases in the value of the assets from the time where the assets were owned in Sweden. Consequently, any fictitious tax cannot be credited in the Swedish taxation of the transfer. The Court also considers that the Swedish Tax Agency was correct ... Read more
Germany vs "HQ Lender GmbH", Januar 2022, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No IR 15/21

Germany vs “HQ Lender GmbH”, Januar 2022, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No IR 15/21

“HQ Lender GmbH” is the sole shareholder and at the same time the controlling company of A GmbH. The latter held 99.98% of the shares in B N.V., a corporation with its seat in Belgium. The remaining shares in B N.V. were held by HQ Lender GmbH itself. A GmbH maintained a clearing account for B N.V., which bore interest at 6% p.a. from 1 January 2004. No collateralisation was agreed in regards of the loan. In the year in dispute (2005), the interest rate on a working capital loan granted to the plaintiff by a bank was 3.14%. On 30 September 2005, A GmbH and B N.V. concluded a contract on a debt waiver against a debtor warrant (… €). The amount corresponded to the worthless part of the claims against B N.V. from the clearing account in the opinion of the parties to the contract. Although it was deducted from the balance sheet of A GmbH to reduce ... Read more
European Commission vs. Belgium, September 2021, The European Court of Justice, Case No. C‑337/19 P

European Commission vs. Belgium, September 2021, The European Court of Justice, Case No. C‑337/19 P

Since 2005, Belgium has applied a system of exemptions for the excess profit of Belgian entities which form part of multinational corporate groups. Those entities were able to obtain a tax ruling from the Belgian tax authorities, if they could demonstrate the existence of a new situation, such as a reorganisation leading to the relocation of the central entrepreneur to Belgium, the creation of jobs, or investments. In that context, profits regarded as being ‘excess’, in that they exceeded the profit that would have been made by comparable stand-alone entities operating in similar circumstances, were exempted from corporate income tax. In 2016, the Commission found that that system of excess profit exemptions constituted a State aid scheme that was unlawful and incompatible with the internal market and ordered the recovery of the aid thus granted from 55 beneficiaries, including the company Magnetrol International. Belgium and Magnetrol International brought an action before the General Court of the European Union seeking the ... Read more
Advocate General’s Opinion in Belgian Excess Profit Exemption Scheme case before the EU Court of Justice

Advocate General’s Opinion in Belgian Excess Profit Exemption Scheme case before the EU Court of Justice

In the Advocate General Opinion delivered 3 December 2020, in the EU Commissions “Aid scheme” case against Belgium and Magnetrol International, it is proposed that the Court of Justice set aside the 2019 judgment of the General Court, on the ground that the Commission has, contrary to the findings of the General Court, sufficiently demonstrated in its decision that the Belgian practice of making downward adjustments to profits of undertakings forming part of multinational groups meets the conditions for the existence of an ‘aid scheme’. “In conclusion, the General Court incorrectly assumed that the conditions of Article 1(d) of Regulation 2015/1589 were not met in the present case. On the contrary, in the contested decision the Commission sufficiently demonstrated that the Belgian practice of making downward adjustments of the profits of undertakings forming part of a multinational group constitutes an aid scheme within the meaning of Article 1(d) of Regulation 2015/1589. The appeal is therefore well founded.” BELGIUM EXCESS PROFIT ... Read more
Sweden vs Flir Commercial Systems AB, March 2020, Stockholm Administrative Court, Case No 28256-18

Sweden vs Flir Commercial Systems AB, March 2020, Stockholm Administrative Court, Case No 28256-18

In 2012, Flir Commercial Systems AB sold intangible assets from a branch in Belgium and subsequently claimed a tax relief of more than SEK 2 billion in fictitious Belgian tax due to the sale. The Swedish Tax Agency decided not to allow relief for the Belgian “tax”, and issued a tax assessment where the relief of approximately SEK 2 billion was denied and a surcharge of approximately SEK 800 million was added. The Administrative Court concluded that the Swedish Tax Agency was correct in not allowing relief for the fictitious Belgian tax. A double taxation agreement applies between Sweden and Belgium. In the opinion of the Administrative Court, the agreement prevents Belgium from taxing the assets. Consequently, any fictitious tax cannot be deducted. The Administrative Court also considers that the Swedish Tax Agency was correct in imposing a tax surcharge and that there is no reason to reduce the surcharge. The company’s appeal is therefore rejected. Click here for translation ... Read more
France, Public Statement related to deduction of interest payments to a Belgian group company, BOI-RES-000041-20190904

France, Public Statement related to deduction of interest payments to a Belgian group company, BOI-RES-000041-20190904

In a public statement the French General Directorate of Public Finance clarified that tax treatment of interest deductions taken by a French company on interest payments to a related Belgian company that benefits from the Belgian notional interest rate scheme. According to French Law, interest paid to foreign group companies is only deductible if a minimum rate of tax applies to the relevant income abroad. Click here for translation BOI-RES-000041-20190904 ... Read more

EU report on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance

In March 2018 a special EU committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (TAX3) was established. Now, one year later, The EU Parliament has approved a controversial report from the committee. According to the report close to 40 % of MNEs’ profits are shifted to tax havens globally each year with some European Union countries appearing to be the prime losers of profit shifting, as 35 % of shifted profits come from EU countries. About 80 % of the profits shifted from EU Member States are channelled to or through a few other EU Member States. The latest estimates of tax evasion within the EU point to a figure of approximately EUR 825 billion per year. Tax avoidance via six EU Member States results in a loss of EUR 42,8 billion in tax revenue in the other 22 Member States, which means that the net payment position of these countries can be offset against the losses they inflict ... Read more
European Commission vs Belgium and Ireland, February 2019, General Court Case No 62016TJ0131

European Commission vs Belgium and Ireland, February 2019, General Court Case No 62016TJ0131

In 2016, the Commission requested that Belgium reclaim around €700 million from multinational corporations in what the Commission found to be illegal state aid provided under the Belgian “excess profit” tax scheme. The tax scheme allowed selected multinational corporations to exempt “excess profits” from the tax base when calculating corporate tax in Belgium. The European Court of Justice concludes that the Commission erroneously considered that the Belgian excess profit system constituted an aid scheme and orders that decision must be annulled in its entirety, in as much as it is based on the erroneous conclusion concerning the existence of such a scheme. For state aid to constitute an ‘aid scheme’, it must be awarded without requiring “further implementing measures.” According to court, “the Belgian tax authorities had a margin of discretion over all of the essential elements of the exemption system in question.” Belgium could influence the amount and the conditions under which the exemption was granted, which precludes the ... Read more
European Commission vs. Belgium and Magnetrol International, February 2019, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T 131/16 and T 263/16

European Commission vs. Belgium and Magnetrol International, February 2019, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T 131/16 and T 263/16

In January 2016 the European Commission concluded that Belgium’s excess profits tax exemption scheme was incompatible with the internal market and unlawful and ordering recovery of the aid granted . Belgium’s excess profits tax exemption In the first step, the arm’s length prices charged in transactions between the Belgian entity of a group and the companies with which it is associated were fixed based on a transfer pricing report provided by the taxpayer. Those transfer prices were determined by applying the transactional net margin method (TNMM). A residual or arm’s length profit was thus established, which corresponded to the profit actually recorded by the Belgian entity. In the second step the Belgian entity’s adjusted arm’s length profit was established by determining the profit that a comparable standalone company would have made in comparable circumstances. The difference between the profit arrived at following the first and second steps (namely the residual profit minus the adjusted arm’s length profit) constituted the amount of ... Read more
Flir Systems Inc in SEK 2.8 billion transfer pricing dispute with Swedish Tax Authorities.

Flir Systems Inc in SEK 2.8 billion transfer pricing dispute with Swedish Tax Authorities.

Flir Systems Inc, a global leader in infrared Cameras, is involved in a SEK 2.8 billion transfer pricing dispute with the Swedish Tax Authorities. In a recent 10Q filings Flir Systems Inc. provides information on the dispute: “…the United States Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and other tax authorities regularly examine our income tax returns. Our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely impacted if any assessments resulting from the examination of our income tax returns by the IRS or other taxing authorities are not resolved in our favor. For example, during the quarter ending September 30, 2018, the Swedish Tax Authority (“STA”) issued a proposed tax assessment for the tax year ending December 31, 2012 to one of the Company’s non-operating subsidiaries in Sweden. The proposed assessment concerns the use of tax credits applied against capital gains pursuant to European Union Council Directive 2009/133/EC, commonly referred to as the EU Merger Directive, and indicates a suggested decision to ... Read more
Pharma and Tax Avoidance, Report from Oxfam

Pharma and Tax Avoidance, Report from Oxfam

New Oxfam research shows that four pharmaceutical corporations — Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer — systematically allocate super profits in overseas tax havens. In eight advanced economies, pharmaceutical profits averaged 7 percent, while in seven developing countries they averaged 5 percent. In comparison, profits margins averaged 31 percent in countries with low or no corporate tax rates – Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands and Singapore. The report exposes how pharmaceutical corporations uses sophisticated tax planning to avoid taxes. cr-prescription-for-poverty-pharma-180918-en ... Read more
European Commission's investigations into member state transfer pricing and tax ruling practices

European Commission’s investigations into member state transfer pricing and tax ruling practices

Since June 2013, the European Commission has been investigating tax ruling practices of EU Member States. A Task Force was set up in summer 2013 to follow up on allegations of favourable tax treatment of certain companies, in particular in the form of unilateral tax rulings. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) provides that “any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market.”. The State aid rules ensures that the functioning of the internal market is not distorted by anticompetitive behavior favouring some to the detriment of others. In June 2014 the Commission initiated a series of State aid investigations on Multinational Corporations related to transfer pricing practices and rulings. Final decisions now have been published ... Read more
Netherlands vs Zinc-Smelter Restructuring BV, September 2017, Rechtbank ZWB, No BRE 15/5683

Netherlands vs Zinc-Smelter Restructuring BV, September 2017, Rechtbank ZWB, No BRE 15/5683

A Dutch company was engaged in smelting of zinc. The business was then restructured, for which the company received a small compensation payment. Dutch tax authorities disagreed with both the amount of compensation payment and the arm’s-length remuneration of the post restructuring manufacturing activities. Until 2003 the Dutch Company was a fully fledged business. The company owned the assets and controlled the risks relating to the activities. In the years after 2003, the company was involved in several business restructurings: Activities other than the actual production activities were gradually transferred to other group companies, among others the global marketing and services team (GMS), took over purchasing, sales and deployment of personnel. After becoming part of another group in 2007, the company entered a consultancy agreement with another group company under witch strategic and business development, marketing, sales, finance, legal support, IT, staffing and environmental services was now provided on a cost plus 7.5% basis. Under ‘Project X’, a Belgian company was established in April 2009, which concluded both a business transfer agreement and a cooperation agreement with related smelting companies ... Read more
Belgium vs Lammers & Van Cleeff, January 2008, European Court of Justice, Case No. C-105/07

Belgium vs Lammers & Van Cleeff, January 2008, European Court of Justice, Case No. C-105/07

The question in this case, was whether EU community law precluded Belgien statutory rules under which interest payments were reclassified as dividends, and thus taxable, if made to a foreign shareholder company. A Belgian subsidiary was established and the two shareholders of the Belgian subsidiary and the parent company, established in the Netherlands, were appointed as directors. The subsidiary paid interest to the parent which was considered by the Belgian tax authorities in part to be dividends and was assessed as such. The European Court of Justice was asked to rule on the compatibility of these Belgien statutory rules with EU Community law The Court ruled that art. 43 and 48 EC precluded national legislation under which interest payments made by a company resident in a member state to a director which was a company established in another member state were reclassified as taxable dividends, where, at the beginning of the taxable period, the total of the interest-bearing loans was higher ... Read more