Tag: Beneficial owner

A person who enjoys the real benefits of ownership, even though the title to the property is in another name. Often important in tax treaties, as a resident of a tax treaty partner may be denied the benefits of certain reduced withholding tax rates if the beneficial owner of the dividends etc is resident of a third country.

Denmark vs Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS, March 2021, High Court, Cases B-721-13

Denmark vs Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS, March 2021, High Court, Cases B-721-13

Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS, a subsidiary in the Heerema group, paid dividends to a parent company in Luxembourg which in turn paid the dividends to two group companies in Panama. The tax authorities found that the company in Luxembourg was not the beneficial owner of the dividends and thus the dividends were not covered by the tax exemption rules of the EU Parent/Subsidiary Directive or the Double Taxation Convention between Denmark and Luxembourg. On that basis an assessment was issued regarding payment of withholding tax on the dividends. An appeal was filed by Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS with the High Court. Judgement of the Eastern High Court The court dismissed the appeal of Heavy Transport Holding Denmark ApS and decided in favor of the tax authorities. The parent company in Luxembourg was a so-called “flow-through” company which was not the beneficial owner of the dividend and thus not covered by the tax exemption rules of the Parent/Subsidiary Directive ... Read more
Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court set aside a tax assessment in which CBS International Netherlands B.V. had been denied reimbursement of withholding tax in the amount of BGN 156 830,27 related to royalties and license payments. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court. In the appeal the tax authorities held that the beneficial owner of the licence and royalty payments was not CBS International Netherlands B.V. but instead CBS CORPORATION, a company incorporated and domiciled in New York, USA. According to the tax authorities the main function of CBS International Netherlands B.V. was that of an intermediary between the end customers and the beneficial owner. This was further supported by the transfer pricing documentation, according to which the US company that bears the risk of the development activity, the market risk is borne equally by the two companies, and the only risks borne by the Dutch company are the currency, ... Read more
Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

Korea vs Microsoft, February 2022, Supreme Court, Case no. 2019두50946

In 2011 Samsung signed the contract with Microsoft for use of software-patent in Android-based smartphone and tablets, and for the years 2012-2015 Samsung paid royalties to a Microsoft subsidiary, MS Licensing GP, while saving 15 percent for withholding tax. The royalties paid by Samsung to Microsoft during these years amounted to 4.35 trillion won, of which 15%, or 653.7 billion won, was paid as withholding tax. In June 2016, Microsoft filed a claim for a tax refund in a amount of 634 billion won with the Tax Office. According to Microsoft royalty paid for patent rights not registered in Korea is not domestic source income, and should not be subject to withholding tax. The request was refused by the tax authorities. Microsoft then filed a lawsuit against the tax authorities in 2017. Microsoft argued that the withholding tax imposed on income from a patent unregistered in Korea resulted in double taxation. The Trail court issued a decision in favour of ... Read more
France vs IKEA, February 2022, CAA of Versailles, No 19VE03571

France vs IKEA, February 2022, CAA of Versailles, No 19VE03571

Ikea France (SNC MIF) had concluded a franchise agreement with Inter Ikea Systems BV (IIS BV) in the Netherlands by virtue of which it benefited, in particular, as a franchisee, from the right to operate the ‘Ikea Retail System’ (the Ikea concept), the ‘Ikea Food System’ (food sales) and the ‘Ikea Proprietary Rights’ (the Ikea trade mark) in its shops. In return, Ikea France paid Inter Ikea Systems BV a franchise fee equal to 3% of the amount of net sales made in France, which amounted to EUR 68,276,633 and EUR 72,415,329 for FY 2010 and 2011. These royalties were subject to the withholding tax provided for in the provisions of Article 182 B of the French General Tax Code, but under the terms of Article 12 of the Convention between France and the Netherlands: “1. Royalties arising in one of the States and paid to a resident of the other State shall be taxable only in that other State”, ... Read more
Italy vs Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA , February 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 3380/2022

Italy vs Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA , February 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 3380/2022

Since Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA’s articles of association prevented it from issuing bonds, financing of the company had instead been archived via an arrangement with its subsidiary in Luxembourg, Mondadori International S.A. To that end, the subsidiary issued a bond in the amount of EUR 350 million, which was subscribed for by US investors. The funds raised were transferred to Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA via an interest-bearing loan. The terms of the loan – duration, interest rate and amount – were the same as those of the bond issued by Mondadori International S.A. to the US investors. The Italian tax authority denied the withholding tax exemption in regards of the interest paid on the loan. According to the tax authorities Mondadori International S.A. had received no benefit from the transaction. The interest paid by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore SpA was immediately and fully transferred to the US investors. Mondadori International S.A. was by the authorities considered a mere conduit company, and ... Read more
Czech Republic vs Avon Cosmetics Ltd, February 2022, Municipal Court, Case No 6 Af 36/2020 - 42

Czech Republic vs Avon Cosmetics Ltd, February 2022, Municipal Court, Case No 6 Af 36/2020 – 42

In 2016 the British company Avon Cosmetics Limited (ACL) became the sole licensor of intellectual property rights for Europe, Africa and the Middle East within the Avon Cosmetics Group and was authorised to issue sub-licences to other group companies, including the Czech subsidiary, Avon Cosmetics spol. s r.o.. ACL charged a fee for issuing a sub-licence equal to an agreed-upon percentage of net sales but was then contractually obliged to pay a similar fee to the US companies, Avon Products Inc. and Avon Internetional Operations Inc. ACL applied for relief from WHT on the royalty payments from the Czech subsidiary. The tax authorities concluded that ACL was not the beneficial owner of the royalty income but only an conduit or intermediary. The legal conditions for granting the exemption were not met. ACL did not obtain any real benefit from the royalty fees and was not authorised to freely decide on use of the income as it was contractually obliged to ... Read more
Denmark vs Takeda A/S and NTC Parent S.a.r.l., November 2021, High Court, Cases B-2942-12 and B-171-13

Denmark vs Takeda A/S and NTC Parent S.a.r.l., November 2021, High Court, Cases B-2942-12 and B-171-13

The issue in these two cases is whether withholding tax was payable on interest paid to foreign group companies considered “beneficial owners” via conduit companies covered by the EU Interest/Royalties Directive and DTA’s exempting the payments from withholding taxes. The first case concerned interest accruals totalling approximately DKK 1,476 million made by a Danish company in the period 2007-2009 in favour of its parent company in Sweden in connection with an intra-group loan. The Danish Tax Authorities (SKAT) subsequently ruled that the recipients of the interest were subject to the tax liability in Section 2(1)(d) of the Corporation Tax Act and that the Danish company was therefore obliged to withhold and pay withholding tax on a total of approximately DKK 369 million. The Danish company brought the case before the courts, claiming principally that it was not obliged to withhold the amount collected by SKAT, as it disputed the tax liability of the recipients of the interest attributions. The second ... Read more
Denmark vs NETAPP ApS and TDC A/S, May 2021, High Court, Cases B-1980-12 and B-2173-12

Denmark vs NETAPP ApS and TDC A/S, May 2021, High Court, Cases B-1980-12 and B-2173-12

On 3 May 2021, the Danish High Court ruled in two “beneficial owner” cases concerning the question of whether withholding tax must be paid on dividends distributed by Danish subsidiaries to foreign parent companies. The first case – NETAPP Denmark ApS – concerned two dividend distributions of approx. 566 million DKK and approx. 92 million made in 2005 and 2006 by a Danish company to its parent company in Cyprus. The National Tax Court had upheld the Danish company in that the dividends were exempt from withholding tax pursuant to the Corporation Tax Act, section 2, subsection. 1, letter c, so that the company was not obliged to pay withholding tax. The Ministry of Taxation brought the case before the courts, claiming that the Danish company should include – and thus pay – withholding tax of a total of approx. 184 million kr. The second case – TDC A/S – concerned the National Tax Tribunal’s binding answer to two questions ... Read more
Netherlands vs "Share Owner/Lender", February 2021, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/01884

Netherlands vs “Share Owner/Lender”, February 2021, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/01884

The interested party bought AEX-listed shares, sold three-month futures based on those shares through its shareholder/broker [D], and lent the shares to [D] (stock lending). It received cash collateral ($ deposits as collateral) and a stock lending fee for its lending. According to the interested party, the shares always briefly reverted to its ownership around their dividend dates through registration in the interested party’s securities account with the French custodian bank on the basis of legal transactions between its shareholder [D] and it, represented by [D]. In dispute is the question whether the interested party is entitled to a set-off of € 39,249,246 in Dutch dividend tax withheld from the dividends on the shares lent by her. Did she receive the dividends (was she the beneficial owner?) and if so, was she also the ultimate beneficiary of the dividend? Also in dispute is whether the Inspector rightly imposed an information decision and thus a reversal and increase of the burden ... Read more
Austria vs S GmbH, November 2020, Verwaltungsgerichtshof, Case No Ra 2019/15/0162-3

Austria vs S GmbH, November 2020, Verwaltungsgerichtshof, Case No Ra 2019/15/0162-3

S GmbH was an Austrian trading company of a group. In the course of business restructuring, the real estate division of the Austrian-based company was initially separated from the “trading operations/brands” division on the demerger date of 31 March 2007. The trademark rights remained with the previous trading company, which was the parent company of the group, now M GmbH. On 25 September 2007, M GmbH transferred all trademark rights to a permanent establishment in Malta, which was set up in the same year, to which it also moved its place of management on 15 January 2008. Licence agreements were concluded between S GmbH and M GmbH, which entitle S GmbH to use the trademarks of M GmbH for advertising and marketing measures in connection with its business operations in return for a (turnover-dependent) licence fee. The tax authorities (re)assessed the corporate income tax for the years 2008 and 2009. The audit had shown that the licence fees were to ... Read more
Bulgaria vs CBS, October 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 12349

Bulgaria vs CBS, October 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 12349

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court set aside a tax assessment in which CBS International Netherlands B.V. had been denied reimbursement of withholding tax related to royalties and license payments. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court. In the appeal the tax authorities held that the beneficial owner of the licence and royalty payments was not CBS International Netherlands B.V. but instead CBS CORPORATION, a company incorporated and domiciled in New York, USA. According to the tax authorities the main function of CBS International Netherlands B.V. was that of an intermediary between the end customers and the beneficial owner. This was further supported by the transfer pricing documentation, according to which the US company that bears the risk of the development activity, the market risk is borne equally by the two companies, and the only risks borne by the Dutch company are the currency, operational and credit risks, which in turn ... Read more
Spain vs COLGATE PALMOLIVE ESPAÑA, S.A., September 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 1996/2019 ECLI:ES:TS:2020:3062

Spain vs COLGATE PALMOLIVE ESPAÑA, S.A., September 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 1996/2019 ECLI:ES:TS:2020:3062

The tax authorities had issued an assessment according to which royalty payments from Colgate Palmolive España S.A (CP España) to Switzerland were not considered exempt from withholding taxes under the Spanish-Swiss DTA since the company in Switzerland was not the Beneficial Owner of the royalty-income. The assessment was set aside by the National Court in a decision issued in November 2018. The Supreme court were to clarify the conformity with the law of the judgement of the Audiencia Nacional, following in the wake of the order of admission which, in a similar manner to that proposed in appeal no. 5448/2018, ruled in favour of the taxpayer on 3 February last, asks the following questions. a) to clarify the objective and temporal limits of the so-called dynamic interpretation of the DTAs signed by the Kingdom of Spain on the basis of the OECD Model Convention – as in this case the Spanish-Swiss DTA – when, despite the fact that the concept ... Read more
Panama vs X S.A., September 2020, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-065

Panama vs X S.A., September 2020, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-065

An assessment was issued where the tax administration denied the application treaty benefits, understanding that the dividends distributed by X S.A. a company with tax residence in Panama, to its shareholder NL Corp in the Netherlands did not qualify for the reduced rate provided for in the DTA because the latter was not the “beneficial owner” of the dividends. Judgement of the Tax Court The court upheld the assessment. “By virtue of the above, we consider that the possibility that the tax administration of the State in which the benefits of the Convention are requested, in this case Panama, also depends on the analysis of the body of evidence, and it is not apparent that the taxpayer has provided, in a timely manner, documentation related to the elements described above, therefore, we do not consider the request to be admissible, as it has not been duly supported by the taxpayer. By virtue of the foregoing considerations, and the fact that ... Read more
Italy vs Stiga s.p.a., formerly Global Garden Products Italy s.p.a., July 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 14756.2020

Italy vs Stiga s.p.a., formerly Global Garden Products Italy s.p.a., July 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 14756.2020

The Italian Tax Authorities held that the withholding tax exemption under the European Interest and Royalty Directive did not apply to interest paid by Stiga s.p.a. to it’s parent company in Luxembourg. The interest was paid on a loan established in connection with a merger leverage buy out transaction. According to the Tax Authorities the parent company in Luxembourg was a mere conduit and could not be considered as the beneficial owner of the Italian income since the interest payments was passed on to another group entity. The Court rejected the arguments of the Italian Tax Authorities and recognized the parent company in Luxembourg as the beneficial owner of the interest income. In the decision, reference was made to the Danish Beneficial Owner Cases from the EU Court of Justice to clarify the conditions for application of the withholding tax exemption under the EU Interest and Royalty Directive and for determination of beneficial owner status. The Court also found that no ... Read more
France vs Atlantique Négoce (Enka), June 2020, Conseil d'Etat, Case No. 423809

France vs Atlantique Négoce (Enka), June 2020, Conseil d’Etat, Case No. 423809

For FY 2007 Atlantique Négoce declared having paid dividends to its Luxembourg parent company, Enka, but the tax authorities found that it had not been proven that the Luxembourg parent company was the actual beneficial owner of the dividends. On that basis a claim for withholding tax on the dividends was issued. Judgement of the Conseil d’Etat. The court upheld the decision of the tax authorities and dismissed the appeal of Atlantique Négoce. It follows from the grounds of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of 26 February 2019, Skatteministeriet v T Danmark and Y Denmark Aps (aff. C-116/16 and C 117/16, paragraph 113) that the status of beneficial owner of the dividends must be regarded as a condition for benefiting from the exemption from withholding tax provided for in Article 5 of Directive 90/435/EEC of 23 July 1990. “The documents in the file submitted to the court of first instance show that the ... Read more
Switzerland vs Coffee Machine Group, April 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_354/2018

Switzerland vs Coffee Machine Group, April 2020, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_354/2018

Coffee Machine Ltd. was founded in Ireland and responsible for the trademark and patent administration as well as the management of the research and development activities of the A group, the world’s largest manufacturer of coffee machines. A Swiss subsidiary of the A group reported payments of dividend to the the Irish company and the group claimed that the payments were exempt from withholding tax under the DTA and issued a claim for a refund. Tax authorities found that the Irish company was not the beneficial owner of the dividend and on that basis denied the companies claim for refund. The lower Swiss court upheld the decision of the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower court and supplemented its findings with the argument, that the arrangement was also abusive because of the connection between the share transfer in 2006 and the distribution of pre-acquisition reserves in 2007 and the total ... Read more
Korea vs "Lux corp", 16 January 2020, Supreme Court Case no. 2016두35854

Korea vs “Lux corp”, 16 January 2020, Supreme Court Case no. 2016두35854

In this case the Korean Supreme Court held that Luxembourg SICAV and SICAF are entitled to reduced withholding tax rate on interest and dividend income under the Korea–Luxembourg Tax Treaty. Meaning of “residents of Luxembourg,” which is subject to the “Convention between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital” (held: any person who, under the laws of Luxembourg, is liable to pay tax therein), and in a case where tax is not imposed in accordance with the benefit of tax exemption, etc. for which legal requirements has been fulfilled, whether it may be considered that the tax liability does not exist (negative). Standard for determining whether one qualifies as the “beneficial owner” as prescribed in Article 10(2) Item (b) or 11(2) of the “Convention between the Government of the Republic ... Read more
Spain vs "Lux Hold S.A.", October 2019, TEAC, Case No 00/02188/2017/00/00

Spain vs “Lux Hold S.A.”, October 2019, TEAC, Case No 00/02188/2017/00/00

There is an obligation to withhold tax on dividends paid to a holding company resident in an EU Member State, if the beneficial owner is resident abroad. Although the Parent-Subsidiary Directive 90/435 does not contain a beneficial owner clause, the exemption clause contained in Article 14.1.h) of the TRLIRNR is perfectly in line with EU law. It cannot be rejected as an incorrect transposition nor can it be considered to infringe the Community principles of freedom of movement or establishment. All this in accordance with the CJEU Judgment of 26 February 2019. The judgment of the CJEU in Cases C-116/16 and C-117/16 is analysed. In contrast to the judgment cited by the claimant: CJEU Judgment of 7 September 2017 Case C-6/16. SP vs Palmolive SAN_1128_2018 ENG NW”>Click here for English Translation Click here for other translation Spain BO - Resolución nº 00-2188-2017 081019 ... Read more
New Beneficial Ownership Toolkit will help tax administrations tackle tax evasion more effectively

New Beneficial Ownership Toolkit will help tax administrations tackle tax evasion more effectively

A beneficial ownership toolkit was released 20. May 2019 in the context of the OECD’s Global Integrity and Anti-Corruption Forum. The toolkit, prepared by the Secretariat of the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, is intended to help governments implement the Global Forum’s standards on ensuring that law enforcement officials have access to reliable information on who the ultimate beneficial owners are behind a company or other legal entity so that criminals can no longer hide their illicit activities behind opaque legal structures. The toolkit was developed to support Global Forum members and in particular developing countries because the current beneficial ownership standard does not provide a specific method for implementing it. The toolkit covers a variety of important issues regarding beneficial ownership, including: the concepts of beneficial owners and ownership, the criteria used to identify them, the importance of the matter for transparency in the financial ... Read more
Denmark vs T and Y Denmark, February 2019, European Court of Justice, Cases C-116/16 and C-117/16

Denmark vs T and Y Denmark, February 2019, European Court of Justice, Cases C-116/16 and C-117/16

The cases of T Danmark (C-116/16) and Y Denmark Aps (C-117/16) adresses questions related to interpretation of the EU-Parent-Subsidary-Directive The issue is withholding taxes levied by the Danish tax authorities in situations where dividend payments are made to conduit companies located in treaty countries but were the beneficial owners of these payments are located in non-treaty countries. During the proceedings in the Danish court system the European Court of Justice was asked a number of questions related to the conditions under which exemption from withholding tax can be denied on dividend payments to related parties. The European Court of Justice has now answered these questions in favor of the Danish Tax Ministry; Benefits granted under the Parent-Subsidiary Directive can be denied where fraudulent or abusive tax avoidance is involved. Quotations from cases C-116/16 and C-117/16: “The general principle of EU law that EU law cannot be relied on for abusive or fraudulent ends must be interpreted as meaning that, where ... Read more