Tag: Commercial justification

Test used for identification of tax avoidance schemes. Artificial schemes which create circumstances under which no tax or minimal tax is levied may be disregarded if they have no “commercial justification” absent the tax benefit. See also lack of economic substance.

South Africa vs ABSA bank, March 2021, High Court, Case No 2019/21825

South Africa vs ABSA bank, March 2021, High Court, Case No 2019/21825

During FY 2014 – 2018 a South African company, ABSA, on four occasions bought tranches of preference shares in another South African company, PSIC 3. This entitled ABSA to dividends. The dividends received from PSIC 3 by ABSA were declared as tax free. The income in PSIC 3 was based on dividend payments on preference shares it owned in another South African company, PSIC 4. The income in PSIC 4 was from a capital outlay to an off shore trust, D1 Trust. The trust then lent money to MSSA, a South African subsidiary of the Macquarie Group, by means of subscribing for floating rate notes. The D1 Trust made investments by way of the purchase of Brazilian Government bonds. It then derived interest thereon. In turn, PSIC 4 received interest on its capital investment in D1 Trust. The South African Revenue Service held that ABSA had been a party to a tax avoidance scheme covered by local anti-avoidance provisions and ... Read more
South Africa vs Sasol Oil, November 2018, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No 923/2017

South Africa vs Sasol Oil, November 2018, Supreme Court of Appeal, Case No 923/2017

The South African Supreme Court of Appeal, by a majority of the court, upheld an appeal against the decision of the Tax Court, in which it was held that contracts between companies in the Sasol Group of companies, for the supply of crude oil by a company in the Isle of Man to a group company in London, and the on sale of the same crude oil to Sasol Oil (Pty) Ltd in South Africa, were simulated transactions. As such, the Tax Court found that the transactions should be disregarded by the Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service, and that the Commissioner was entitled to issue additional assessments for the 2005, 2006 and 2007 tax years. On appeal, the Court considered all the circumstances leading to the conclusion of the impugned contracts, the terms of the contracts, the evidence of officials of Sasol Oil, the time when the contracts were concluded (2001), and the period when Sasol Oil may ... Read more
Germany vs Hornbach-Baumarkt, May 2018, European Court of Justice, C-382/16

Germany vs Hornbach-Baumarkt, May 2018, European Court of Justice, C-382/16

In the Hornbach-Baumarkt case, a German parent company guaranteed loans of two related companies for no remuneration. The German tax authorities made an assessment of the amount of income allocated to the parent company as a result of the guarantee, based on the fact that unrelated third parties, under the same or similar circumstances, would have agreed on a remuneration for the guarantees. Hornbach-Baumarkt argued that German legislation was in conflict with the EU freedom of establishment and lead to an unequal treatment of domestic and foreign transactions since, in a case involving german domestic transactions, no corrections to the income would have been made for guarantees granted to subsidiaries. The company further argued that the legislation is disproportionate to achieving the objectives as it provides no opportunity for the company to present commercial justification for the non-arm’s-length transaction. The German Court requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice on these arguments. In May 2018 The European ... Read more