Tag: Luxembourg

Denmark vs NetApp Denmark ApS and TDC A/S, January 2023, Supreme Court, Cases 69/2021, 79/2021 and 70/2021

Denmark vs NetApp Denmark ApS and TDC A/S, January 2023, Supreme Court, Cases 69/2021, 79/2021 and 70/2021

The issue in the Danish beneficial ownership cases of NetApp Denmark ApS and TDC A/S was whether the companies were obliged to withhold dividend tax on distributions to foreign parent companies. The first case – NetApp Denmark ApS – concerned two dividend distributions of approximately DKK 566 million and DKK 92 million made in 2005 and 2006 to an intermediate parent company in Cyprus – and then on to NETAPP Bermuda. The second case – TDC A/S – concerned the distribution of dividends of approximately DKK 1.05 billion in 2011 to an intermediate parent company in Luxembourg – and then on to owner companies in the Cayman Islands. In both cases, the tax authorities took the view that the intermediate parent companies were so-called “flow-through companies” which were not the real recipients of the dividends, and that the real recipients (beneficial owners) were resident in countries not covered by the EU Parent-Subsidiary Directive (Bermuda and Cayman respectively). Therefore, withholding taxes ... Read more
US Supreme Court denies Whirlpool's request for judicial review of the 2021 judgement from the Court of Appeal.

US Supreme Court denies Whirlpool’s request for judicial review of the 2021 judgement from the Court of Appeal.

21 November 2022 the US Supreme Court denied Whirlpool its request for judicial review of the December 2021 judgement of the Court of Appeal (Sixth Circuit). 10 August 2022 Whirlpool filed a “petition for writ” with the Supreme Court of the United States. “Petitioners Whirlpool Financial Corporation & Consolidated Subsidiaries and Whirlpool International Holdings S.à.r.l. & Consolidated Subsidiaries collectively, “Whirlpool”) respectfully petition this Court for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in this case.” The case revolves around a tax arrangement setup by the Whirlpool group, where a subsidiary in Luxembourg with one part-time employee (and subject to US CFC provisions) owned a Mexican manufacturing entity. The Mexican entity manufactured products for the Luxembourg subsidiary under a manufacturing services arrangement. According to the contractual setup, the subsidiary in Luxembourg owned all the raw materials, work-in-process, finished goods, machinery and equipment in Mexico. The products produced in Mexico ... Read more
Czech Republic vs HPI - CZ spol. s r.o., November 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 9 Afs 37/2022 - 37

Czech Republic vs HPI – CZ spol. s r.o., November 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 9 Afs 37/2022 – 37

HPI – CZ spol. s r.o. is a subsidiary in the Monier group which is active in the production, sales and services of roofing and insulation products. In June 2012 the Monier group replaced an existing cash pool arrangement with a new cash pool arrangement. The documents submitted show that on 1 April 2009 HPI concluded a cash pool agreement with Monier Group Services GmbH , which consisted in HPI sending the balance of its bank account once a week to the group’s cash pooling account – thus making those funds available to the other members of the group, who could use them to ‘cover’ the negative balances in their accounts. The companies that deposited funds into the cash pooling account received interest on these deposits at 1M PRIBOR + 3%; loans from the shared account bore interest at 1M PRIBOR + 3.75%. With effect from 1 June 2012, HPI concluded a new cash pooling agreement with a newly established ... Read more
The European Commission vs Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe, November 2022, European Court of Justice, Case No C-885/19 P and C-898/19 P

The European Commission vs Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe, November 2022, European Court of Justice, Case No C-885/19 P and C-898/19 P

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 Luxembourg. In October 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, the General Court dismissed the actions brought by FFT and confirmed the validity of the Commission’s decision. This decision was ... Read more
Czech Republic vs HPI - CZ spol. s r.o., October 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 5 Afs 141/2021 - 37

Czech Republic vs HPI – CZ spol. s r.o., October 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 5 Afs 141/2021 – 37

HPI – CZ spol. s r.o. is a subsidiary in the Monier group. In June 2012 the group replaced an existing cash pool arrangement with a new cash pool arrangement. Following an audit of HPI the tax authorities issued an assessment of additional income for FY 2012 resulting from HPI’s participation in the new cash pool. According to the tax authorities the interest rates applied to HPI’s deposits in the new cash pool (1M PRIBOR + 0.17%) had not been at arm’s length. The tax authorities determined the arm’s length interest rates to be the same rates that had been applied in the previously cash pool arrangement (1M PRIBOR + 3%) from 1 January 2012 to 31 May 2012. HPI filed an appeal and in January 2019 the Regional court set aside the assessment issued by the tax authorities. The Regional Court held that the tax authority’s view, which determined the arm’s length interest rate by taking it to be ... Read more
France vs SA SACLA, October 2022, Conseil d'État, Case No. 457695 (ECLI:FR:CECHS:2022:457695.20221027)

France vs SA SACLA, October 2022, Conseil d’État, Case No. 457695 (ECLI:FR:CECHS:2022:457695.20221027)

SA SACLA, which trades in protective clothing and footwear as well as small equipment, was subject of a 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/trademarks 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 form 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 five ... Read more
Banca Generali announces EUR 45 Million Settlement with Italian Revenue Agency

Banca Generali announces EUR 45 Million Settlement with Italian Revenue Agency

Italian financial institute, Banca Generali, has signed a agreement with the Italian Revenue Agency, whereby the parties agreed upon the terms and conditions for the settlement of tax claims in relation to transfer pricing for FY 2014 to 2018. Under the agreement, Banca Generali will incur an additional tax charge of €45.99 million for FY 2014-2018. The tax dispute relates to remuneration for a transfer in 2008 of fund management activities in Italian to a newly established Luxembourg company, BG Fund Management Luxembourg S.A. According to the announcement, no penalties will be applied due to the penalty protection regime. Italy BG_Tax+Agreement_2022 ... Read more
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
Poland vs D. Sp. z oo, April 2022, Administrative Court, Case No I SA/Bd 128/22

Poland vs D. Sp. z oo, April 2022, Administrative Court, Case No I SA/Bd 128/22

D. Sp. z oo had deducted interest expenses on intra-group loans and expenses related to intra-group services in its taxable income for FY 2015. The loans and services had been provided by a related party in Delaware, USA. Following a inspection, the tax authority issued an assessment where deductions for these costs had been denied resulting in additional taxable income. In regards to the interest expenses the authority held that the circumstances of the transactions indicated that they were made primarily in order to achieve a tax advantage contrary to the object and purpose of the Tax Act (reduction of the tax base by creating a tax cost in the form of interest on loans to finance the purchase of own assets), and the modus operandi of the participating entities was artificial, since under normal trading conditions economic operators, guided primarily by economic objectives and business risk assessment, do not provide financing (by loans or bonds) for the acquisition of ... 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, August 2021, CAA of Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

France vs SA SACLA, August 2021, CAA of Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

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 charged 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 a dividend ... 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
UK vs GE Capital, December 2020, High Court, Case No [2020] EWHC 1716

UK vs GE Capital, December 2020, High Court, Case No [2020] EWHC 1716

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. The High Court ruled that HMRC could pursue the claim against GE in July 2020. Judgement of the High Court The High Court ruled in favour of the tax authorities. UK vs GE 2021 COA 1716 ... Read more
Netherlands vs X B.V., December 2020, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/02096 ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:1198

Netherlands vs X B.V., December 2020, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/02096 ECLI:NL:PHR:2020:1198

This case concerns a private equity takeover structure with apparently an intended international mismatch, i.e. a deduction/no inclusion of the remuneration on the provision of funds. The case was (primarily) decided by the Court of Appeal on the basis of non-business loan case law. The facts are as follows: A private equity fund [A] raised LP equity capital from (institutional) investors in its subfund [B] and then channelled it into two (sub)funds configured in the Cayman Islands, Fund [C] and [D] Fund. Participating in those two Funds were LPs in which the limited partners were the external equity investors and the general partners were Jersey-based [A] entities and/or executives. The equity raised in [A] was used for leveraged, debt-financed acquisitions of European targets to be sold at a capital gain after five to seven years, after optimising their EBITDA. One of these European targets was the Dutch [F] group. The equity used in its acquisition was provided not only by ... Read more
El Salvador vs "E-S Cosmetics Corp", December 2020, Tax Court, Case R1701011.TM

El Salvador vs “E-S Cosmetics Corp”, December 2020, Tax Court, Case R1701011.TM

“Cosmetics Corp” is active in wholesale of medicinal products, cosmetics, perfumery and cleaning products. Following an audit the tax authorities issued an assessment regarding the interest rate on loans granted to the related parties domiciled in Cayman Islands and Luxembourg. An appeal was filed by the company. Judgement of the Tax Court The court partially upheld the assessment. Excerpt “In this sense, it is essential to create a law that contains the guidelines that the OECD has established to guarantee the principle of full competition in transactions carried out between national taxpayers with related companies, for the purpose of applying the technical methods and procedures that they provide; The express reference made by Article 62-A of the TC cannot be considered as a dimension of the principle of relative legal reserve, insofar as there is no full development of the methods or procedures contained therein, nor a reference to an infra-legal rule containing them, but rather a reference that does ... Read more
AXA S.A. issued an income assessment of EUR 130 million by the French tax authorities

AXA S.A. issued an income assessment of EUR 130 million by the French tax authorities

Insurance group AXA S.A. is now paying back millions of euros in taxes after French tax authorities found that a Luxembourg-based structure had been used by the group for tax avoidance. According to the French tax authorities AXE S.A. had undeclared taxable profits of at least 130 million in FY 2005 and 2010.    The scheme involved use of a group entity in Luxembourg granting loans to AXA’s foreign subsidiaries. The entity in Luxembourg benefited from a tax ruling issued by Luxembourg’s authorities that allowed it to be tax-exempt. According to AXA the tax laws of France and Luxembourg were fully respected and the group is confident regarding the outcome of this process and will keep collaborating with fiscal authorities to assert its rights ... Read more
Spain vs JACOBS DOUWE EGBERTS ES, SLU., November 2020, Tribunal Superior de Justicia, Case No STSJ M 7038/2019 - ECLI:EN:TS:2020:3730

Spain vs JACOBS DOUWE EGBERTS ES, SLU., November 2020, Tribunal Superior de Justicia, Case No STSJ M 7038/2019 – ECLI:EN:TS:2020:3730

At issue in this case was whether or not it is possible to regularize transactions between companies by directly applying art. 9.1 of DTA between Spain and French, without resorting to the transfer pricing methods provided for in local Spanish TP legislation. Application of article 9 and taxing according to local tax legislation is often a question of determining the arm’s length price. But sometimes other rules will apply regardless of the value – for instance anti avoidance legislation where the question is not the price but rather the justification and substance of the transaction. In the present case the arm’s length price of the relevant transaction was not discussed, but rather whether or not transaction of shares had sufficient economic substance to qualify for application of Spanish provisions for tax depreciation of the shares in question. The National Court understood that the share acquisition lacked substance and only had a tax avoidance purpose. It could not be understood that ... Read more
Allegations of tax avoidance in Dutch Pharma Group Qiagen

Allegations of tax avoidance in Dutch Pharma Group Qiagen

According to investigations by SOMO – an independent center for Research on Multinational Corporations – the annual accounts of Pharma Group Qiagen shows that the group has avoided tax on profits by passing internal loans through an elaborate network of letterbox companies in European tax havens including Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta. It is estimated that, since 2010, the group has avoided at least  €93 million in taxes and has accumulated tax deduction in an amount of €49 million ... Read more
Mexico vs Majestic Silver Corp, September 2020, Federal Administrative Court, Not published

Mexico vs Majestic Silver Corp, September 2020, Federal Administrative Court, Not published

On 23 September 2020, the Federal Administrative Court in Mexico issued a not yet published decision in a dispute between the Mexican tax authorities (SAT) and Canadian mining group First Majestic Silver Corp’s Mexican subsidiary, Primero Empresa Minera. The court case was filed back in 2015 by the tax authorities, to cancel an Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) issued to Primero Empresa Minera back in 2012. According to the APA, a methodology had been determined allowing the Mexican mining company to sell silver at 4.04 dollars per ounce to a group company based in Barbados (Silver Trading Barbados Ltd) via Luxembourg, when the average market price of silver was above 30 dollars. The APA was applied by Primero Empresa Minera for FY 2010 – 2014. The Federal Court decided in favor of the tax authorities that the APA was invalid and therefore nullified. After receiving the decision from the Federal Court, First Majestic on 25 September 2020 issued a press release ... Read more
UK vs GE Capital, July 2020, High Court, Case No RL-2018-000005

UK vs GE Capital, July 2020, High Court, Case No RL-2018-000005

GE Capital (GE) have been routing financial transactions (AUS $ 5 billion) related to GE companies in Australia via the UK in order to gain a tax advantage – by “triple dipping” in regards to interest deductions, thus saving billions of dollars in tax in Australia, the UK and the US. Before entering into these transactions, GE obtained clearance from HMRC that UK tax rules were met, in particular new “Anti-Arbitrage Rules” introduced in the UK in 2005, specifically designed to prevent tax avoidance through the exploitation of the tax treatment of ‘hybrid’ entities in different jurisdictions. The clearance was granted by the tax authorities in 2005 based on the understanding that the funds would be used to invest in businesses operating in Australia. In total, GE’s clearance application concerned 107 cross-border loans amounting to debt financing of approximately £21.2 billion. The Australian Transaction was one part of the application. After digging into the financing structure and receiving documents from ... 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
France vs SA Sacla, February 2020, CAA de Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

France vs SA Sacla, February 2020, CAA de Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

SA Sacla, a French company trading in protective clothing and footwear, as well as small equipment, was audited for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009. The French tax administration issued an assessment, considering that SA Sacla by selling brands owned by it for an amount of 90,000 euros to a Luxembourg company, Involvex, had indirectly transfered profits abroad. Due to inconclusive results of various valuations presented by the tax authorities and the taxpayer, an expert opinion was ordered by the Court on the question of whether the price of the brands sold by SA Sacla to the company Involvex had been at arm’s length. DECIDES: Article 1: Before ruling on the request of SA SACLA, an expert will carry out an assessment in order to determine whether the selling price of the brands sold by SA SACLA corresponds to their value, taking into account the exemption payment of royalties for a period of 5 years granted by the company Involvex ... 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
European Commission decision to open state-aid investigation into Luxembourg deduction of deemed interest on interest free loans - The Huhtamaki

European Commission decision to open state-aid investigation into Luxembourg deduction of deemed interest on interest free loans – The Huhtamaki

The European Commission has published a non-confidential version of the decision to open a state aid investigation into tax rulings granted by the Luxembourg tax authorities to the Huhtamaki Group in relation to the treatment of interest-free loans granted by an Irish group company to a Luxembourg group company, Huhtalux S.a.r.l. The investigation will focus on three rulings obtained by a Luxembourg subsidiary of a group from the Luxembourg tax administration in 2009, 2012 and 2013. The Luxembourg subsidiary which carried out intra-group financing activities was granted interest-free loans from an Irish group subsidiary and used the funds to grant interest bearing loans to other group companies. In the rulings the tax authorities in Luxembourg confirmes that the financing subsidiary can deduct an amount of deemed interest on the interest-free loans corresponding to interest payments that an independent third party would have demanded for the loans in question. As in the “Belgian excess profits” State aid case, the Commission considers that ... Read more
Austria vs LU Ltd, March 2019, VwGH, Case No Ro 2018713/0004

Austria vs LU Ltd, March 2019, VwGH, Case No Ro 2018713/0004

A Luxembourg-based limited company (LU) held a 30% stake in an Austrian stock company operating an airport. LU employed no personnel and did not develop any activities. The parent company of LUP was likewise resident in Luxembourg. LUP had business premises in Luxembourg and employed three people. All of the shares in LUP were held by a company in the British Cayman Islands in trust for a non- resident Cayman Islands-based fund. In 2015, the Austrian Company distributed a dividend to LU. LU was not yet involved in the Austrian corporation “for an uninterrupted period of at least one year” thus withholding tax was withheld and deducted. A request for refunding of the withholding tax was denied by the tax office because the dividend was distributed to recipients in a third country and the tax authorities regarded the structure as abusive. LU then appealed the decision to the Federal Fiscal Court. The Court held that the appeal was unfounded, because ... Read more

EU report on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance

In March 2018 a special EU committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (TAX3) was established. Now, one year later, The EU Parliament has approved a controversial report from the committee. According to the report close to 40 % of MNEs’ profits are shifted to tax havens globally each year with some European Union countries appearing to be the prime losers of profit shifting, as 35 % of shifted profits come from EU countries. About 80 % of the profits shifted from EU Member States are channelled to or through a few other EU Member States. The latest estimates of tax evasion within the EU point to a figure of approximately EUR 825 billion per year. Tax avoidance via six EU Member States results in a loss of EUR 42,8 billion in tax revenue in the other 22 Member States, which means that the net payment position of these countries can be offset against the losses they inflict ... Read more
Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Huhtamäki in Luxembourg

Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Huhtamäki in Luxembourg

The European Commission has now opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether tax rulings granted by Luxembourg to Finnish food and drink packaging company Huhtamäki may have given the company an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU State Aid rules. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Member States should not allow companies to set up arrangements that unduly reduce their taxable profits and give them an unfair advantage over their competitors. The Commission will carefully investigate Huhtamäki’s tax treatment in Luxembourg to assess whether it is in line with EU State aid rules.” The Commission’s formal investigation concerns three tax rulings issued by Luxembourg to the Luxembourg-based company Huhtalux S.à.r.l. in 2009, 2012 and 2013. The 2009 tax ruling was disclosed as part of the “Luxleaks” investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2014. Huhtalux is part of the Huhtamäki group, which is headquartered in Finland. Huhtamäki is a company active ... 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
Denmark vs N, X, C, and Z Denmark, February 2019, European Court of Justice, Cases C-115/16, C-118/16, C-119/16 and C-299/16

Denmark vs N, X, C, and Z Denmark, February 2019, European Court of Justice, Cases C-115/16, C-118/16, C-119/16 and C-299/16

The cases of N Luxembourg 1 (C-115/16), X Denmark A/S (C-118/16), C Danmark I (C-119/16) and Z Denmark ApS (C-299/16), adresses questions related to the interpretation of the EU Interest and Royalty Directive. The issue in these cases is withholding taxes levied by the Danish tax authorities in situations where interest 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 interest 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 Interest and Royalty Directive can be denied where fraudulent or abusive tax avoidance is involved. Quotations from cases C-115/16, C-118/16, C-119/16 and C-299/16: “The concept of ‘beneficial ... Read more
Italy vs Dolce & Gabbana, December 2018, Supreme Court, Case no 33234/2018

Italy vs Dolce & Gabbana, December 2018, Supreme Court, Case no 33234/2018

Italien fashion group, Dolce & Gabbana, had moved ownership of valuable intangibles to a subsidiary established for that purpose in Luxembourg. The Italian Revenue Agency found the arrangement to be wholly artificial and set up only to avoid Italien taxes and to benefit from the privileged tax treatment in Luxembourg. The Revenue Agency argued that all decision related to the intangibles was in fact taken at the Italian headquarters of Dolce & Gabbana in Milan, and not in Luxembourg, where there were no administrative structure and only one employee with mere secretarial duties. Dolce & Gabbana disagreed with these findings and brought the case to court. In the first and second instance the courts ruled in favor of the Italian Revenue Agency, but the Italian Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dolce & Gabbana. According to the Supreme Court, the fact that a company is established in another EU Member State to benefit from more advantageous tax legislation does not ... Read more
European Commission vs McDonald, December 2018, European Commission Case no. SA.38945

European Commission vs McDonald, December 2018, European Commission Case no. SA.38945

The European Commission found that Luxembourg did not grant illegal State aid to McDonald’s as a consequence of the exemption of income attributed to a US branch. ...it is not established that the Luxembourg tax authorities misapplied the Luxembourg – US double taxation treaty. Therefore, on the basis of the doubts raised in the Opening Decision and taking into account its definition of the reference system, the Commission cannot establish that the contested rulings granted a selective advantage to McD Europe by misapplying the Luxembourg – US double taxation treaty ... Read more
Italy vs CDC srl, December 2018, Tax Court, Case No 32255/2018

Italy vs CDC srl, December 2018, Tax Court, Case No 32255/2018

A refund of withholding tax on dividend payments from an Italien subsidiary, CDC srl, was claimed by the parent company in Luxembourg, CDC Net SA. The parent company had been subject to income tax in Luxembourg as required by the EU Directive, but in Luxembourg there were no actual taxation of the dividends. The refund was denied as, according to the authorities, the Luxembourg company did not meet the requirements of the EU Directive due to lack of actual taxation of the dividends in Luxembourg. The Court ruled in favor of the tax authorities and denied the refund of withholding taxes under the European Parent Subsidiary Directive (Directive 90/435/EEC, Article 5, paragraph 1, ) as no double taxation existed due to the dividend exemption regime in Luxembourg. Click here for English translation Click here for other translation Italy Dividend Supreme Court 2018 ... Read more
Norway vs Stanley Black & Decker Norway AS , December 2018, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2016-105694

Norway vs Stanley Black & Decker Norway AS , December 2018, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2016-105694

At issue was the transfer pricing method applied on transactions between Black & Deckers Norwegian distribution company and the group trading hub in Luxembourg, Black & Decker Ltd SARL. The Norwegian tax authorities in 2013 issued a tax assessment of Black and Decker Norway AS where the taxable income for years 2005 – 2008 was increased with a total amount of NOK 50 million. The assessment was appealed to the Tax Appeals Committee where the amount was reduced to a total of NOK 26 million in line with recommendations of the tax authorities during the proceedings. The decision of the Tax Appeals Committee was upheld by the District Court and later the Court of Appeal where the appeal of Black & Decker was rejected. Click here for translation Norway vs Black & Decker december 2018 case no LB-2016-105694 ... Read more
Canada vs ALTA Energy Luxemburg, September 2018, Case no 2014-4359(IT)G

Canada vs ALTA Energy Luxemburg, September 2018, Case no 2014-4359(IT)G

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