Tag: Commercial rationality

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 are not “commercially rational” absent the tax benefit. See also lack of economic substance.

Spain vs SGL Carbon Holding, September 2021, Tribunal Supremo, Case No 1151/2021 ECLI:EN:TS:2021:3572

Spain vs SGL Carbon Holding, September 2021, Tribunal Supremo, Case No 1151/2021 ECLI:EN:TS:2021:3572

A Spanish subsidiary – SGL Carbon Holding SL – had significant financial expenses derived from an intra-group loan granted by the parent company for the acquisition of shares in companies of the same group. The taxpayer argued that the intra-group acquisition and debt helped to redistribute the funds of the Group and that Spanish subsidiary was less leveraged than the Group as a whole. The Spanish tax authorities found the transactions lacked any business rationale other than tax avoidance and therefor disallowed the interest deductions. The Court of appeal upheld the decision of the tax authorities. The court found that the transaction lacked any business rationale and was “fraud of law” only intended to avoid taxation. The Court also denied the company access to MAP on the grounds that Spanish legislation determines: The decision was appealed by SGL Carbon to the Supreme Court. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of SGL CARBON and upheld the ... Read more
Italy vs GI Group S.p.A., May 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 13850/2021

Italy vs GI Group S.p.A., May 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 13850/2021

A non-interest-bearing loan had been granted by GI Group S.p.A., to a related company – Goldfinger Limited – in Hong Kong, in order to acquire a 56% shareholding in the Chinese company Ningbo Gi Human Resources Co. Limited. The Italien tax authorities had issued an assessment, where an interest rate on the loan had been determined and an amount equal to the interest calculated on that basis had been added to the taxable income of GI Group S.p.A. GI Group brought this assessment to the Regional Tax Commission where a decision was rendered setting aside the assessment. This decision was appealed to the Supreme Court by the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme court upheld the appeal of the tax authorities and referred the case back to the Regional Tax Commission. According to the Supreme Court, the decision of the Tax Commission dit not comply with the principles of law concerning the subject matter of evidence and ... Read more
Sweden vs TELE2 AB, January 2021, Administrative Court, Case No 13259-19 and 19892-19

Sweden vs TELE2 AB, January 2021, Administrative Court, Case No 13259-19 and 19892-19

The Swedish group TELE2, one of Europe’s largest telecommunications operators, had invested in an entity in Kazakhstan, MTS, that was owned via a joint venture together with an external party. Tele2 owned 51% of the Joint venture and MTS was financed by Tele2’s financing entity, Tele2 Treasury AB, which, during 2011-2015, had issued multiple loans to MTS. In September 2015, the currency on the existing internal loans to MTS was changed from dollars to KZT. At the same time a ‘Form of Selection Note’ was signed according to which Tele2 Treasury AB could recall the currency denomination within six months. A new loan agreement denominated in KZT, replacing the existing agreements, was then signed between Tele2 Treasury AB and MTS. In the new agreement the interest rate was also changed from LIBOR + 4.6% to a fixed rate of 11.5%. As a result of these contractual changes to the loan agreements with MTS, Tele2 Treasury AB in its tax filing ... Read more
UK vs Bluecrest Capital Management, July 2020, First-Tier Tribunal - Tax Chamber, Case No TC07782

UK vs Bluecrest Capital Management, July 2020, First-Tier Tribunal – Tax Chamber, Case No TC07782

In the case of BlueCrest Capital Management Cayman Limited (& others), the key issues involved partnership profit/loss allocations for mixed member partnerships and the associated anti-avoidance legislation – limitation on tax relief for interest on unallowable purpose loans and the sale of occupational income provisions. Judgement The Tribunal found that the sale of occupational income rules could apply to charge Income tax on partnership capital contributions. Although the arrangements  did have a commercial purpose (retention and incentivization of partners), they also had as a main object the avoidance or reduction of liability to pay income tax. The test for application of the occupational income rules was therefore met. UK-vs-Bluecrest-Capital-Management-TC07782-1 ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.7

Where it is considered that the arrangements made in relation to the transaction, viewed in their totality, differ from those which would have been adopted by independent enterprises behaving in a commercially rational manner in comparable circumstances, the guidance at Section D.2 of Chapter I may also be relevant ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.3

The conditions of financial transactions between independent enterprises will be the result of various commercial considerations. In contrast, an MNE group has the discretion to decide upon those conditions within the MNE group. Thus, in an intra-group situation, other considerations such as tax consequences may also be present ... Read more
Greece vs "VSR Inc", December 2019, Court, Case No A 2631/2019

Greece vs “VSR Inc”, December 2019, Court, Case No A 2631/2019

At issue was the transfer of taxable assets from a shareholder to a 100% owned company, “VSR Inc”. This transfer of resulted in an understatement of profits in a controlled sale of vehicle scrapping rights. Following an audit, the tax authority concluded that the rights had been acquired in the previous quarter from the one transferred and that a sale value below cost could not be justified. According to the tax authorities the arrangement lacked economic or commercial substance. The sole purpose had been to lower the overall taxation. An revised tax assessment – and a substantial fine – was issued by the tax authorities. VSR filed an appeal. Judgement of the Court The court dismissed the appeal and decided in favor of the tax authorities. “Since it is apparent from the above that the above transactions were intended to transfer taxable material from the applicant’s sole proprietorship to the associated company under the name of ” “, TIN and ... Read more
Spain vs SGL Carbon Holding, April 2019, Audiencia Nacional, Case No ES:AN:2019:1885

Spain vs SGL Carbon Holding, April 2019, Audiencia Nacional, Case No ES:AN:2019:1885

A Spanish subsidiary – SGL Carbon Holding SL – had significant financial expenses derived from an intra-group loan granted by the parent company for the acquisition of shares in companies of the same group. The taxpayer argued that the intra-group acquisition and debt helped to redistribute the funds of the Group and that Spanish subsidiary was less leveraged than the Group as a whole. The Spanish tax authorities found the transactions lacked any business rationale other than tax avoidance and therefor disallowed the interest deductions. The Court held in favor of the authorities. The court found that the transaction lacked any business rationale and was “fraud of law” only intended to avoid taxation. The Court also denied the company access to MAP on the grounds that Spanish legislation determines: Article 8 Reglamento MAP: Mutual agreement procedure may be denied, amongst other, in the following cases: … (d) Where it is known that the taxpayer’s conduct was intended to avoid taxation ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter IX paragraph 9.124

Based on these findings, it can be concluded that Company A continues to perform the same functions and assume the same risks as before the restructuring took place. In particular, Company A continues to have the capability and actually performs control functions in relation to the risk of exploitation of the intangibles. It also carries on the functions related to the development, maintenance and execution of the worldwide marketing strategy. Company Z has no capability to perform control functions, and does not in fact perform the control functions needed to assume the intangible related risks. Accordingly, the accurate delineation of the transaction after the restructuring may lead to the conclusion that this is in substance a funding arrangement between Company A and Company Z, rather than a restructuring for the centralisation of intangible management. An assessment may be necessary of the commercial rationality of the transaction based on the guidance in Section D.2 of Chapter I taking into account the ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter VIII paragraph 8.40

As indicated in paragraph 8.33, the guidance in Chapter VI on hard-to-value intangibles may equally apply in situations involving CCAs. This will be the case if the objective of the CCA is to develop a new intangible that is hard to value at the start of the development project, but also in valuing contributions involving pre-existing intangibles. Where the arrangements viewed in their totality lack commercial rationality in accordance with the criteria in Section D.2 of Chapter I, the CCA may be disregarded ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter I paragraph 1.122

This section sets out circumstances in which the transaction between the parties as accurately delineated can be disregarded for transfer pricing purposes. Because non-recognition can be contentious and a source of double taxation, every effort should be made to determine the actual nature of the transaction and apply arm’s length pricing to the accurately delineated transaction, and to ensure that non-recognition is not used simply because determining an arm’s length price is difficult. Where the same transaction can be seen between independent parties in comparable circumstances (i.e. where all economically relevant characteristics are the same as those under which the tested transaction occurs other than that the parties are associated enterprises) non-recognition would not apply. Importantly, the mere fact that the transaction may not be seen between independent parties does not mean that it should not be recognised. Associated enterprises may have the ability to enter into a much greater variety of arrangements than can independent enterprises, and may conclude ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter I paragraph 1.103

The consequences of risk allocation in Example 3 in paragraph 1.85 depend on analysis of functions under step 3. Company A does not have control over the economically significant risks associated with the investment in and exploitation of the asset, and those risks should be aligned with control of those risks by Companies B and C. The functional contribution of Company A is limited to providing financing for an amount equating to the cost of the asset that enables the asset to be created and exploited by Companies B and C. However, the functional analysis also provides evidence that Company A has no capability and authority to control the risk of investing in a financial asset. Company A does not have the capability to make decisions to take on or decline the financing opportunity, or the capability to make decisions on whether and how to respond to the risks associated with the financing opportunity. Company A does not perform functions ... Read more

TPG2017 Chapter I paragraph 1.99

In exceptional circumstances, it may be the case that no associated enterprise can be identified that both exercises control over the risk and has the financial capacity to assume the risk. As such a situation is not likely to occur in transactions between third parties, a rigorous analysis of the facts and circumstances of the case will need to be performed, in order to identify the underlying reasons and actions that led to this situation. Based on that assessment, the tax administrations will determine what adjustments to the transaction are needed for the transaction to result in an arm’s length outcome. An assessment of the commercial rationality of the transaction based on Section D.2 may be necessary ... Read more
Norway vs Hess Norge AS, May 2017, Court of Appeal

Norway vs Hess Norge AS, May 2017, Court of Appeal

A Norwegian subsidiary of an international group (Hess Oil), refinanced an intra-group USD loan two years prior to the loans maturity date. The new loan was denominated in Norwegian kroner and had a significantly higher interest rate. The tax authorities reduced the interest payments of the Norwegian subsidiary pursuant to section 13-1 of the Tax Act for fiscal years 2009 – 2011, thereby increasing taxable income for years in question with a total of kroner 262 million. The Court of Appeal found for the most part in favor of the tax administraion. Under the circumstances of the case, neither the claimed refinancing risk nor the currency risk could sufficiently support it being commercially rational for the subsidiary to enter into the new loan agreement two years prior to the maturity date of the original USD loan. When applying the arm’s length principle, the company’s refinancing risk had to be based on the Norwegian company’s actual situation as a subsidiary in ... Read more
Brazil vs Macopolo, July 2014, Supreme Tax Appeal Court, Case no 9101-001.954

Brazil vs Macopolo, July 2014, Supreme Tax Appeal Court, Case no 9101-001.954

The case involved export transactions carried out by a company domiciled in Brazil, Marcopolo, manufacturing bus bodies (shells) which were sold to subsidiary trading companies domiciled in low tax jurisdictions (Jurisdição com Tributação Favorecida). The trading companies would then resell the bus bodies (shells) to unrelated companies in different countries. The tax authorities argued that the sale of the bus bodies to the intermediary trading companies carried out prior to the sale to the final customers lacked business purpose and economic substance and were therefore a form of abusive tax planning. The Court reached the decision that the transactions had a business purpose and were therefore legally acceptable. Click here for translation Brazil vs M 2014 ... Read more
Switzerland vs. Corp, Juli 2012, Federal Supreme Court, Case No. 2C_834-2011, 2C_836-2011

Switzerland vs. Corp, Juli 2012, Federal Supreme Court, Case No. 2C_834-2011, 2C_836-2011

In this ruling, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court comments on the application of the arm’s length principel and the burden of proff in Switzerland. “Services, which have their legal basis in the investment relationship, are to be offset against the taxable income of the company to the extent that they would otherwise not be granted to a third party under the same circumstances or not to the same extent and would not constitute a capital repayment. This rule of the so-called third-party comparison (or the principle of “dealing at arm’s length”) therefore requires that even legal transactions with equity holders or between Group companies be conducted on the same terms as would be agreed with external third parties on competitive and market conditions.” “Swiss Law – with the exception of individual provisions – does not have any actual group law and treats each company as a legally independent entity with its own bodies which have to transact the business in ... Read more
Norway vs. Telecomputing, June 2010, Supreme Court case nr. HR-2010-1072-A

Norway vs. Telecomputing, June 2010, Supreme Court case nr. HR-2010-1072-A

This case was about the qualification of capital transfers to a US subsidiary – whether the capital should be qualified as a loan (as done by the company) or as a equity contribution (as agrued by the tax administration). The Supreme Court concluded that the capital transfers to the subsidiary as a whole should be classified as loans. The form chosen by the company (loan) had an independent commercial rationale and Section 13-1 of the Tax Code did not allow for reclassification of the capital transfer The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Telecomputing AS. Click here for translation Norway rt-2010-s-790-Telecomputing-rentefritt-lån ... Read more