Tag: intra-group loans

ATO and Singtel in Court over Intra-company Financing Arrangement

ATO and Singtel in Court over Intra-company Financing Arrangement

In 2001, Singtel, through its wholly owned Australian subsidiary, Singapore Telecom Australia Investments Pty Limited (Singtel Au), acquired the majority of the shares in Cable & Wireless Optus for $17.2 billion. The tax consequences of this acqusition was decided by the Federal Court in Cable & Wireless Australia & Pacific Holding BV (in liquiatie) v Commissioner of Taxation [2017] FCAFC 71. Cable & Wireless argued that part of the price paid under a share buy-back was not dividends and that withholding tax should therefor be refunded. The ATO and the Court disagreed. ATO and Singtel is now in a new dispute  – this time over tax consequences associated with the intra-group financing of the takeover. This case was heard in the Federal Court in August 2021. At issue is a tax assessments for FY 2011, 2012 and 2013 resulting in additional taxes in an amount $268 million. In the assessment interest deductions claimed in Australia on notes issued under a ... Read more
Finland vs A Oyj, May 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2021:66

Finland vs A Oyj, May 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2021:66

A Oyj was the parent company of the A-group, and responsible for the group’s centralised financial activities. It owned the entire share capital of D Oy and B Oy. D Oy in turn owned the entire share capital of ZAO C, a Russian company. A Oyj had raised funds from outside the group and lent these funds to its Finnish subsidiary B Oy, which in turn had provided a loan to ZAO C. The interest charged by B Oy on the loans to ZAO C was based on the cost of A Oyj’s external financing. The interest rate also included a margin of 0,55 % in tax year 2009, 0,58 % in tax year 2010 and 0,54 % in tax year 2011. The margins had been based on the average margin of A Oyj’s external financing plus 10 %. The Tax Administration had considered that the level of interest to be charged to ZAO C should have been determined taking ... Read more
Belgium vs ENGIE CC cv, January 2021, Supreme Court, Case No F.18.0140.N

Belgium vs ENGIE CC cv, January 2021, Supreme Court, Case No F.18.0140.N

ENGIE CC granted a loan to one of its group companies (Electrabel Nederland Holding bv). In 2005 Electrabel Holding bv repaid the loan prematurely and paid – as contractually stipulated – a reinvestment fee of EUR 5,611,906.11 to the plaintiff. Following a tax audit in 2008, the tax authorities established that an incorrect interest rate had been used and that the reinvestment fee should only have been EUR 2,853,070.69, hence EUR 2,758,835.42 was overpaid. The tax authorities issued an assessment to ENGIE, according to which the excess amount would be taxed as an abnormal or gratuitous advantage. ENGIE then took the unilateral initiative to repay the excess amount to Electrabel Nederland Holding bv. On that basis ENGIE contested the qualification of the excessive part of the reinvestment fee as an abnormal or gratuitous advantage, since it would have been an error and therefore an undue payment. The Court of First Instance and later the Court of appeal, declared the complaint and ... Read more
Poland vs Q. F. sp. z o.o., January 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No II FSK 2514

Poland vs Q. F. sp. z o.o., January 2021, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No II FSK 2514

A request for an interpretation was submitted by a company in regards to financial transactions (loans and guarantees) with related parties. The requested interpretation was relevant in determining the amount of the controlled transactions and on that basis whether the taxpayer was required to prepare TP documentation or not. The company held that in determining the value of a loan transaction, only the value of interest should be taken into account. The tax authorities held that both the amount of interest and the amount of capital were to be included in amount of the transaction. Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court The Court decided in favour of the tax authorities. Applying a linguistic interpretation, the court found no support for excluding the capital part of a loan transaction from the amount of the transaction. Click here for English Translation Click here for other translation II FSK 2514 ... 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 Blackrock, November 2020, First-tier Tribunal, Case No TC07920

UK vs Blackrock, November 2020, First-tier Tribunal, Case No TC07920

In 2009 the BlackRock Group acquired Barclays Global Investors for a total sum of $13,5bn . The price was paid in part by shares ($6.9bn) and in part by cash ($6.6bn). The cash payment was paid by BlackRock Holdco 5 LLC – a US Delaware Company tax resident in the UK – but funded by the parent company by issuing $4bn loan notes to the LLC. In the years following the acquisition Blackrock Holdco 5 LLC claimed tax deductions in the UK for interest payments on the intra-group loans. Following an audit in the UK the tax authorities disallowed the interest deductions. The tax authorities held that the transaction would not have happened between independent parties. They also found that the loans were entered into for an unallowable tax avoidance purpose. A UK taxpayer can be denied a deduction for interest where a loan has an unallowable purpose i.e, where a tax advantage is the company’s main purpose for entering ... Read more
Romania vs Impresa Pizzarotti & C SPA Italia, October 2020, ECJ Case C-558/19

Romania vs Impresa Pizzarotti & C SPA Italia, October 2020, ECJ Case C-558/19

A Regional Court of Romania requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice in the Case of Impresa Pizzarotti. Impresa Pizzarotti is the Romanian branch of SC Impresa Pizzarotti & C SPA Italia (‘Pizzarotti Italia’), established in Italy. In 2017, the Romanian tax authorities conducted an audit of an branch of Impresa Pizzarotti. The audit revealed that the branch had concluded, as lender, two loan agreements with its parent company, Pizzarotti Italia: one dated 6 February 2012 for EUR 11 400 000 and another dated 9 March 2012 for EUR 2 300 000. Those sums had been borrowed for an initial period of one year, which could be extended by way of addendum, that the loan agreements did not contain any clause concerning the charging of interest by Impresa Pizzarotti, and that although the outstanding amount as of 1 January 2013 was EUR 11 250 000, both loans had been repaid in full by 9 April 2014. Transactions between Romanian persons and non-resident ... Read more
Greece vs "Lender Corp", March 2020, Court, Case No A 638/2020

Greece vs “Lender Corp”, March 2020, Court, Case No A 638/2020

“Lender Corp” had received a loan from a related party for repayment of outstanding dividends to its shareholders. The tax authority disallowed Lender Corp’s interest expenses on the loan. They found that the receipt of the loan was not in compliance with the provisions of paragraph a of Article 22 of Law No. 4172/2013, since the loan capital was not used in the interest of the company. Although the funds were made available for the fulfilment of obligations, they did not contribute to the generation of income or the development of the company’s business. Hence interest on the loan was considered as a non-deductible business expense. Lender Corp then filed an appeal. Judgement of the Court The court dismissed the appeal of Lender Corp and upheld the decision of the tax authorities. “As is evident from the information in the file of the present appeal, on 25.06.2015 the General Meeting of the shareholders of the company ” ” decided to ... Read more
New TPG Chapter X on Financial Transactions (and additions to TPG Chapter I) released by OECD

New TPG Chapter X on Financial Transactions (and additions to TPG Chapter I) released by OECD

Today, the OECD has released the report Transfer Pricing Guidance on Financial Transactions. The guidance in the report describes the transfer pricing aspects of financial transactions and includes a number of examples to illustrate the principles discussed in the report. Section B provides guidance on the application of the principles contained in Section D.1 of Chapter I of the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines to financial transactions. In particular, Section B.1 of this report elaborates on how the accurate delineation analysis under Chapter I applies to the capital structure of an MNE within an MNE group. It also clarifies that the guidance included in that section does not prevent countries from implementing approaches to address capital structure and interest deductibility under their domestic legislation. Section B.2 outlines the economically relevant characteristics that inform the analysis of the terms and conditions of financial transactions. Sections C, D and E address specific issues related to the pricing of financial transactions (e.g. treasury functions, ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.108

Such an approach would represent a departure from an arm’s length approach based on comparability since it is not based on comparison of actual transactions. Furthermore, it is also important to bear in mind the fact that such letters do not constitute an actual offer to lend. Before proceeding to make a loan, a commercial lender will undertake the relevant due diligence and approval processes that would precede a formal loan offer. Such letters would not therefore generally be regarded as providing evidence of arm’s length terms and conditions ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.107

In some circumstances taxpayers may seek to evidence the arm’s length rate of interest on an intra-group loan by producing written opinions from independent banks, sometimes referred to as a “bankability” opinion, stating what interest rate the bank would apply were it to make a comparable loan to that particular enterprise ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.106

The reliability of economic models’ outcomes depends upon the parameters factored into the specific model and the underlying assumptions adopted. In evaluating the reliability of economic models as an approach to pricing intra-group loans it is important to note that economic models’ outcomes do not represent actual transactions between independent parties and that, therefore, comparability adjustments would be likely required. However, in situations where reliable comparable uncontrolled transactions cannot be identified, economic models may represent tools that can be usefully applied in identifying an arm’s length price for intra-group loans, subject to the same constraints regarding market conditions discussed in paragraph 10.98 ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.105

In their most common variation, economic models calculate an interest rate through a combination of a risk-free interest rate and a number of premiums associated with different aspects of the loan – e.g. default risk, liquidity risk, expected inflation or maturity. In some instances, economic models would also include elements to compensate the lender’s operational expenses ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.104

Certain industries rely on economic models to price intra-group loans by constructing an interest rate as a proxy to an arm’s length interest rate ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.103

Accordingly, the use of credit default swaps to approximate the risk premium associated to intra- group loans will require careful consideration of the above-mentioned circumstances to arrive at an arm’s length interest rate ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.102

As financial instruments traded in the market, credit default swaps may be subject to a high degree of volatility. This volatility may affect the reliability of credit default swaps as proxies to measure the credit risk associated to a particular investment in isolation, since the credit default spreads may reflect not only the risk of default but also other non-related factors such as the liquidity of the credit default swaps contracts or the volume of contracts negotiated. Those circumstances could lead to situations where, for instance, the same instrument may have different credit default swaps spreads ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.101

Credit default swaps reflect the credit risk linked to an underlying financial asset. In the absence of information regarding the underlying asset that could be used as a comparable transaction, taxpayers and tax administrations may use the spreads of credit default swaps to calculate the risk premium associated to intra-group loans ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.100

In some intra-group transactions, the cost of funds approach may be used to price loans where capital is borrowed from an unrelated party which passes from the original borrower through one or more associated intermediary enterprises, as a series of loans, until it reaches the ultimate borrower. In such cases, where only agency or intermediary functions are being performed, as noted at paragraph 7.34, “it may not be appropriate to determine the arm’s length pricing as a mark-up on the costs of the services but rather on the costs of the agency function itself.” ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.99

The application of the cost of funds approach requires consideration of the options realistically available to the borrower. On prevailing facts and circumstances, a borrowing MNE would not enter into a transaction priced under the cost of funds approach if it could obtain the funding under better conditions by entering into an alternative transaction ... Read more

TPG2020 Chapter X paragraph 10.98

One consideration to be kept in mind with the cost of funds approach is that it should be applied by considering the lender’s cost of funds relative to other lenders operating in the market. The cost of funds can vary between different prospective lenders, so the lender cannot simply charge based on its cost of funds, particularly if there is a potential competitor who can obtain funds more cheaply. A lender in a competitive market may seek to price at the lowest possible rate in order to win business. In the commercial environment, this will mean that lenders drive operating costs as low as possible and seek to minimise the cost of obtaining funds to lend ... Read more
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