Tag: Luxembourg

McDonald’s has agreed to pay €1.25bn to settle a dispute with French authorities over excessive royalty payments to Luxembourg

McDonald’s has agreed to pay €1.25bn to settle a dispute with French authorities over excessive royalty payments to Luxembourg

On 16 June 2022 McDonald’s France entered into an settlement agreement according to which it will pay €1.245 billion in back taxes and fines to the French tax authorities. The settlement agreement resulted from investigations carried out by the French tax authorities in regards to abnormally high royalties transferred from McDonald’s France to McDonald’s Luxembourg following an intra group restructuring in 2009. McDonald’s France doubled its royalty payments from 5% to 10% of restaurant turnover, and instead of paying these royalties to McDonald’s HQ in the United States, going forward they paid them to a Swiss PE of a group company in Luxembourg, which was not taxable of the amounts. During the investigations it was discovered that McDonald’s royalty fees could vary substantially from one McDonald’s branch to the next without any justification other than tax savings for the group. This conclusion was further supported by statements of the managers of the various subsidiaries as well as documentation seized which ... Read more
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
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
The European Commission vs. Ireland, December 2021, European Court of Justice Case, AG Opinion, No C-898/19 P (ECLI:EU:C:2021:1029)

The European Commission vs. Ireland, December 2021, European Court of Justice Case, AG Opinion, No C-898/19 P (ECLI:EU:C:2021:1029)

At issue in this case is whether the arm’s length principle as described in the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines can be applied by the EU in determining if state aid had been granted. In 2012, the Luxembourg tax authorities issued a tax ruling in favour of Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe (‘FFT’), an undertaking in the Fiat group that provided treasury and financing services to the group companies established in Europe. The tax ruling at issue endorsed a method for determining FFT’s remuneration for these services, which enabled FFT to determine its taxable profit on a yearly basis for corporate income tax in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In 2015, the Commission concluded that the tax ruling constituted State aid under Article 107 TFEU and that it was operating aid that was incompatible with the internal market. The Commission found that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was required to recover the unlawful and incompatible aid from FFT. FFT brought an action ... Read more
The European Commission vs. Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe, December 2021, European Court of Justice Case, AG Opinion, No C-885/19 P (ECLI:EU:C:2021:1028)

The European Commission vs. Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe, December 2021, European Court of Justice Case, AG Opinion, No C-885/19 P (ECLI:EU:C:2021:1028)

In 2012, the Luxembourg tax authorities issued a tax ruling in favour of Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe (‘FFT’), an undertaking in the Fiat group that provided treasury and financing services to the group companies established in Europe. The tax ruling at issue endorsed a method for determining FFT’s remuneration for these services, which enabled FFT to determine its taxable profit on a yearly basis for corporate income tax in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In 2015, the Commission concluded that the tax ruling constituted State aid under Article 107 TFEU and that it was operating aid that was incompatible with the internal market. The Commission found that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was required to recover the unlawful and incompatible aid from FFT. FFT brought an action before the General Court for annulment of the Commission’s decision. In it’s Judgement of September 2019 Union , the General Court dismissed the actions brought by FFT and confirmed the validity of the ... Read more
US vs Whirlpool, December 2021, U.S. Court of Appeals, Case No. Nos. 20-1899/1900

US vs Whirlpool, December 2021, U.S. Court of Appeals, Case No. Nos. 20-1899/1900

The US tax authorities had increased Whirlpool US’s taxable because income allocated to Whirlpool Luxembourg for selling appliances was considered taxable foreign base company sales income FBCSI/CFC income to the parent company in the U.S. under “the manufacturing branch rule” under US tax code Section 951(a). The income from sales of appliances had been allocated to Whirlpool Luxembourg  through a manufacturing and distribution arrangement under which it was the nominal manufacturer of household appliances made in Mexico, that were then sold to Whirlpool US and to Whirlpool Mexico. According to the arrangement the income allocated to Luxembourg was not taxable in Mexico nor in Luxembourg. Whirlpool challenged IRS’s assessment and brought the case to the US Tax Court. In May 2020 the Tax Court ruled in favor of the IRS. “If Whirlpool Luxembourg had conducted its manufacturing operations in Mexico through a separate entity, its sales income would plainly have been FCBSI [foreign base company sales income] under section 954(d)(1),”. The ... Read more
Canada vs Alta Energy Luxembourg S.A.R.L., November 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 2021 SCC 49 - 2021-11-26

Canada vs Alta Energy Luxembourg S.A.R.L., November 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 2021 SCC 49 – 2021-11-26

ALTA Energy, a resident of Luxembourg, claimed an exemption from Canadian income tax under Article 13(5) of the Canada-Luxembourg Income Tax Treaty in respect of a large capital gain arising from the sale of shares of ALTA Canada, its wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary. At that time, Alta Canada carried on an unconventional shale oil business in the Duvernay shale oil formation situated in Northern Alberta. Alta Canada was granted the right to explore, drill and extract hydrocarbons from an area of the Duvernay formation designated under licenses granted by the government of Alberta. The Canadian tax authorities denied that the exemption applied and assessed ALTA Energy accordingly. Article 13(5) of the Canada-Luxembourg Tax Treaty is a distributive rule of last application. It applies only in the case where the capital gain is not otherwise taxable under paragraphs (1) to (4) of Article 13 of the Treaty. Article 13(4) is relevant to the outcome of this appeal. Under that provision, Canada has ... 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
Pandora Papers - a new leak of financial records

Pandora Papers – a new leak of financial records

A new huge leak of financial records revealed by ICIJ, once again shows widespread use of offshore accounts, shell companies and trusts to hide wealth and/or avoid taxes. The new leak is known as the Pandora Papers and follows other recent leaks – lux leak, panama papers, paradise papers. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained 11.9 million confidential documents from 14 separate legal and financial services firms, which the group said offered “a sweeping look at an industry that helps the world’s ultrawealthy, powerful government officials and other elites conceal trillions of dollars from tax authorities, prosecutors and others.” “The key players in the system include elite institutions – multinational banks, law firms and accounting practices – headquartered in the U.S. and Europe.” The Consortium said the 2.94 terabytes of financial and legal data shows the “offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies,” and involves some of the world’s most well-known ... Read more
Brazil vs AES SUL Distribuidora Gaúcha de Energia S/A, August 2021, Superior Tribunal de Justiça, CaseNº 1949159 - CE (2021/0219630-6)

Brazil vs AES SUL Distribuidora Gaúcha de Energia S/A, August 2021, Superior Tribunal de Justiça, CaseNº 1949159 – CE (2021/0219630-6)

AES SUL Distribuidora Gaúcha de Energia S/A is active in footwear industry. It had paid for services to related foreign companies in South Africa, Argentina, Canada, China, South Korea, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal and Turkey. The tax authorities were of the opinion that withholding tax applied to these payments, which they considered royalty, and on that basis an assessment was issued. Not satisfied with this assessment AES filed an appeal, which was allowed by the court of first instance. An appeal was then filed by the tax authorities with the Superior Tribunal. Judgement of the Superior Tribunal de Justiça The court upheld the decision of the court of first instance and dismissed the appeal of the tax authorities. Excerpts “Therefore, the income from the rendering of services paid to residents or domiciled abroad, in the cases dealt with in the records, is not subject to the levy of withholding income tax. The refund of amounts proved to ... Read more
France vs SA SACLA, December 2021, CAA of Lyon, Case No. 19MA04336

France vs SA SACLA, December 2021, CAA of Lyon, Case No. 19MA04336

SA SACLA, which trades in protective clothing and footwear, as well as small equipment, was the subject of an tax audit covering the FY 2007, 2008 and 2009. In a proposed assessment issued in December 2011, the tax authorities increased its taxable income, on the basis of Article 57 of the General Tax Code, by considering that SACLA, by selling, a set of brands held by it for EUR 90,000 to a Luxembourg company, Involvex, which benefited from a preferential tax regime, had carried out an indirect transfer of profits in the context of a reduction in the selling price. In a ruling of February 2020, the Lyon Administrative Court of Appeal, after dismissing the plea of irregularity in the judgment, decided that an expert would carry out an valuation to determine whether the sale price of the trademarks corresponded to their value. The valuation should take into consideration an agreed exemption from payment of royalties for a period of ... Read more

Luxembourg vs “Lux PPL SARL”, July 2021, Administrative Tribunal, Case No 43264

Lux PPL SARL received a profit participating loan (PPL) from a related company in Jersey to finance its participation in an Irish company.  The participation in the Irish company was set up in the form of debt (85%) and equity (15%). The profit participating loan (PPL) carried a fixed interest of 25bps and a variable interest corresponding to 99% of the profits derived from the participation in the Irish company, net of any expenses, losses and a profit margin. After entering the arrangement, Lux PPL SARL filed a request for an binding ruling with the Luxembourg tax administration to verify that the interest  charge under the PPL would not qualify as a hidden profit distribution subject to the 15% dividend withholding tax. The tax administration issued the requested binding ruling on the condition that the ruling would be terminate if the total amount of the interest charge on the PPL exceeded an arm’s length charge. Later, Lux PPL SARL received ... Read more
Netherlands vs X B.V., July 2021, Supreme Court, Case No ECLI:NL:2021:1102

Netherlands vs X B.V., July 2021, Supreme Court, Case No ECLI:NL:2021:1102

X B.V., a private limited company established in the Netherlands, is part of a globally operating group (hereafter: the Group). In the years under review, the head office, which was also the top holding company, was located in the USA. Until 1 February 2008, the X B.V. was, together with BV 1 and BV 2, included in a fiscal unity for corporate income tax with the Interested Party as the parent company. As of 1 February 2008, a number of companies were added to the fiscal unity, including BV 3 and BV 4. X B.V. is considered transparent for tax purposes according to US standards. Its parent company is a company domiciled in the USA, as further described in 2.1.8 below. In 2006, BV 1 borrowed € 195,000,000 under a Euro Credit Facility (ECF), a head office guaranteed credit facility with a syndicate of sixteen banks. BV 1 contributed this amount in 2007 as share premium to BV 2. BV ... Read more
Belgium vs "Uniclick B.V.", June 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No 2016/AR/455

Belgium vs “Uniclick B.V.”, June 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No 2016/AR/455

“Uniclick B.V.” had performed all the important DEMPE functions with regard to intangible assets as well as managing all risks related to development activities without being remunerated for this. Royalty-income related to the activities had instead been received by a foreign group company incorporated in Ireland and with its place of management in Luxembourg. In 2012, the administration sent notices of amendment to the tax return to the respondent for assessment years 2006 and 2010. The tax administration stated that “Uniclick B.V.”, through its director B.T. and employees M.C. and S.M., invented and developed the Uniclic technology in 1996 and continued to exploit it, and that the subsequent transfer of rights to the Uniclic invention to U.B. BV was simulated. The administration added the profits foregone annually by the “Uniclick B.V.”, i.e. the royalties received by F. from third party licensees less the costs borne by F., to “Uniclick B.V’s” taxable base. “Uniclick B.V.” disagreed with this and argued, among ... Read more
France vs. SARL SRN Métal, May 2021, CAA, Case No. 19NC03729

France vs. SARL SRN Métal, May 2021, CAA, Case No. 19NC03729

SARL SRN Métal’s business is trading in industrial metal and steel products. Following an audit of the company for FY 2011 to 2012 and assessment was issued related to VAT, Transfer Pricing and Withholding Tax. In regards to transfer pricing, the administration considered that (1) the sales of goods made by SRN Métal to B-Lux Steel, established in Luxembourg, were invoiced at a lower price than that charged to the company’s other customers and (2) that commissions paid to Costa Rica – a privileged tax regime – were not deductible as SRN Metal did not provided proof that the expenses corresponded to real operations and that they are not abnormal or exaggerated. The company requested the administrative court of Strasbourg to discharge the assessments. This request was rejected by the court in a judgement issued 29 October 2019. This decision of the administrative court was appealed by the company to the Supreme Administrative Court Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court ... Read more
European Commission vs Luxembourg and Engie, May 2021, EU General Court, Case No T-516/18 and T-525/18

European Commission vs Luxembourg and Engie, May 2021, EU General Court, Case No T-516/18 and T-525/18

Engie (former GDF Suez) is a French electric utility company. Engie Treasury Management S.à.r.l., a treasury company, and Engie LNG Supply, S.A, a liquefied natural gas trading company, are both part of the Engie group. In November 2017, Total has signed an agreement with Engie to acquire its LNG business, including Engie LNG Supply. In 2018 the European Commission has found that Luxembourg allowed two Engie group companies to avoid paying taxes on almost all their profits for about a decade. This is illegal under EU State aid rules because it gives Engie an undue advantage. Luxembourg must now recover about €120 million in unpaid tax. The Commission’s State aid investigation concluded that the Luxembourg tax rulings gave Engie a significant competitive advantage in Luxembourg. It does not call into question the general tax regime of Luxembourg. In particular, the Commission found that the tax rulings endorsed an inconsistent tax treatment of the same structure leading to non-taxation at all ... Read more
European Commission vs. Amazon and Luxembourg, May 2021, State Aid - European General Court, Case No T-816/17 and T-318/18

European Commission vs. Amazon and Luxembourg, May 2021, State Aid – European General Court, Case No T-816/17 and T-318/18

In 2017 the European Commission concluded that Luxembourg granted undue tax benefits to Amazon of around €250 million.  Following an in-depth investigation the Commission concluded that a tax ruling issued by Luxembourg in 2003, and prolonged in 2011, lowered the tax paid by Amazon in Luxembourg without any valid justification. The tax ruling enabled Amazon to shift the vast majority of its profits from an Amazon group company that is subject to tax in Luxembourg (Amazon EU) to a company which is not subject to tax (Amazon Europe Holding Technologies). In particular, the tax ruling endorsed the payment of a royalty from Amazon EU to Amazon Europe Holding Technologies, which significantly reduced Amazon EU’s taxable profits. This decision was brought before the European Court of Justice by Luxembourg and Amazon. Judgement of the EU Court  The European General Court found that Luxembourg’s tax treatment of Amazon was not illegal under EU State aid rules. According to a press release ” The ... 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
UK vs GE Capital, April 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No [2021] EWCA Civ 534

UK vs GE Capital, April 2021, Court of Appeal, Case No [2021] EWCA Civ 534

In 2005 an agreement was entered between the UK tax authority and GE Capital, whereby GE Capital was able to obtain significant tax benefits by routing billions of dollars through Australia, the UK and the US. HMRC later claimed, that GE Capital had failed to disclose all relevant information to HMRC prior to the agreement and therefore asked the High Court to annul the agreement. In December 2020 the High Court decided in favour of HMRC GE Capital then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal. Judgement of the Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and set aside the decision of the High Court and thus the assessment af the HMRC. HMRC-v-GE CAPITAL 2021 ... Read more
Chile vs Avery Dennison Chile S.A., March 2021, Tax Court, Case N° RUT°96.721.090-0

Chile vs Avery Dennison Chile S.A., March 2021, Tax Court, Case N° RUT°96.721.090-0

The US group, Avery Dennison, manufactures and distributes labelling and packaging materials in more than 50 countries around the world. The remuneration of the distribution and marketing activities performed Avery Dennison Chile S.A. had been determined to be at arm’s length by application of a “full range” analysis. Furthermore, surplus capital from the local company had been placed at the group’s financial centre in Luxembourg, Avery Management KGAA, at an interest rate of 0,79% (12-month Libor). According the tax authorities in Chile the remuneration of the local company had not been at arm’s length, and the interest rate paid by the related party in Luxembourg had been to low. Judgement of the Tax Tribunal The Tribunal decided in favour of Avery Dennison Chile S.A. “Hence, the Respondent [tax authorities] failed to prove its allegations that the marketing operations carried out by the taxpayer during the 2012 business year with related parties not domiciled or resident in Chile do not conform ... Read more
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