Tag: Netherlands

Uber-files - Tax Avoidance promoted by the Netherlands

Uber-files – Tax Avoidance promoted by the Netherlands

Uber files – confidential documents, leaked to The Guardian newspaper shows that Uber in 2015 sought to deflect attention from its Dutch conduits and Caribbean tax shelters by helping tax authorities collect taxes from its drivers. At that time, Uber’s Dutch subsidiary received payments from customers hiring cars in cities around the world (except US and China), and after paying the drivers, profits were routed on as royalty fees to Bermuda, thus avoiding corporate income tax. In 2019, Uber took the first steps to close its Caribbean tax shelters. To that end, a Dutch subsidiary purchased the IP that was previously held by the Bermudan subsidiary, using a $16 billion loan it had received from Uber’s Singapore holding company. The new setup was also tax driven. Tax depreciations on the IP acquired from Bermuda and interest on the loan from Singapore will significantly reduce Uber’s effective tax rate in years to come. Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research ... Read more
France vs Ferragamo France, June 2022, Administrative Court of Appeal (CAA), Case No 20PA03601

France vs Ferragamo France, June 2022, Administrative Court of Appeal (CAA), Case No 20PA03601

Ferragamo France, which was set up in 1992 and is wholly owned by the Dutch company Ferragamo International BV, which in turn is owned by the Italian company Salvatore Ferragamo Spa, carries on the business of retailing shoes, leather goods and luxury accessories and distributes, in shops in France, products under the ‘Salvatore Ferragamo’ brand, which is owned by the Italian parent company. An assessment had been issued to Ferragamo France in which the French tax authorities asserted that the French subsidiary had not been sufficiently remunerated for additional expenses and contributions to the value of the Ferragamo trademark. The French subsidiary had been remunerated on a gross margin basis, but had incurred losses in previous years and had indirect cost exceeding those of the selected comparable companies. In 2017 the Administrative Court decided in favour of Ferragamo and dismissed the assessment issued by the tax authorities. According to the Court the tax administration had not demonstrated the existence of ... Read more
Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

Bulgaria vs CBS, March 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 3012

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court set aside a tax assessment in which CBS International Netherlands B.V. had been denied reimbursement of withholding tax in the amount of BGN 156 830,27 related to royalties and license payments. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court. In the appeal the tax authorities held that the beneficial owner of the licence and royalty payments was not CBS International Netherlands B.V. but instead CBS CORPORATION, a company incorporated and domiciled in New York, USA. According to the tax authorities the main function of CBS International Netherlands B.V. was that of an intermediary between the end customers and the beneficial owner. This was further supported by the transfer pricing documentation, according to which the US company that bears the risk of the development activity, the market risk is borne equally by the two companies, and the only risks borne by the Dutch company are the currency, ... Read more
Italy vs BenQ Italy SRL, March 2021, Corte di Cassazione, Sez. 5 Num. 1374 Anno 2022

Italy vs BenQ Italy SRL, March 2021, Corte di Cassazione, Sez. 5 Num. 1374 Anno 2022

BenQ Italy SRL is part of a multinational group headed by the Taiwanese company BenQ Corporation that sells and markets technology products, consumer electronics, computing and communications devices. BenQ Italy’s immediate parent company was a Dutch company, BenQ Europe PV. Following an audit the tax authorities issued a notice of assessment for FY 2003 in which the taxpayer was accused of having procured goods from companies operating in countries with privileged taxation through the fictitious interposition of a Dutch company (BenQ Europe BV), the parent company of the taxpayer, whose intervention in the distribution chain was deemed uneconomic. On the basis of these assumptions, the tax authorities found that the recharge of costs made by the interposed company, were non-deductible. The tax authorities also considered that, through the interposition of BenQ BV, the prices charged by the taxpayer were aimed at transferring most of the taxable income to the manufacturing companies of the BenQ Group located in countries with privileged ... Read more
Belgium, December 2021, Constitutional Court, Case No 184/2021

Belgium, December 2021, Constitutional Court, Case No 184/2021

By a notice of December 2020, the Court of Appeal of Brussels referred the following question for a preliminary ruling by the Constitutional Court : “ Does article 207, second paragraph, ITC (1992), as it applies, read together with article 79 ITC (1992), in the interpretation that it also applies to abnormal or gratuitous advantages obtained by a Belgian company from a foreign company, violate articles 10, 11 and 172 of the Constitution? “. The Belgian company “D.W.B.”, of which Y.S. and R.W. were the managers, was set up on 4 October 2006 by the Dutch company “W.”. On 25 October 2006, the latter also set up the Dutch company “D.W.” On 9 November 2006, bv “W.” sold its shareholdings in a number of subsidiaries of the D.W. group to its subsidiary nv ” D.W. “. It was agreed that 20 % of the selling price would be contributed by e.g. “W.” to the capital of the latter and that ... Read more
Hungary vs G.K. Ktf, December 2021, Court of Appeals, Case No. Kfv.V.35.306/2021/9

Hungary vs G.K. Ktf, December 2021, Court of Appeals, Case No. Kfv.V.35.306/2021/9

G.K. Ktf was a subsidiary of a company registered in the United Kingdom. On 29 December 2010 G.K. Ktf entered into a loan agreement with a Dutch affiliate, G.B. BV, under which G.B. BV, as lender, granted a subordinated unsecured loan of HUF 3 billion to G.K. Ktf. Interest was set at a fixed annual rate of 11.32%, but interest was only payable when G.K. Ktf earned a ‘net income’ from its activities. The maturity date of the loan was 2060. The loan was used by G.K. Ktf to repay a debt under a loan agreement concluded with a Dutch bank in 2006. The bank loan was repaid in 2017/2018. The interest paid by G.K. Ktf under the contract was deducted as an expense of HUF 347,146,667 in 2011 and HUF 345,260,000 in 2012. But, in accordance with Dutch tax law – the so called participation exemption – G.B BV did not include the interest as taxable income in its ... 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
The European Commission vs. Nike and the Netherlands, July 2021, European Court of Justice Case No T-648/19

The European Commission vs. Nike and the Netherlands, July 2021, European Court of Justice Case No T-648/19

In 2016 the European Commission announced that it had opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether tax rulings (unilateral APA’s) granted by the Netherlands had given Nike an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU State aid rules. The formal investigation concerned the tax treatment in the Netherlands of two Nike group companies, Nike European Operations Netherlands BV and Converse Netherlands BV. These two operating companies develops, markets and records the sales of Nike and Converse products in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (the EMEA region). Nike European Operations Netherlands BV and Converse Netherlands BV obtained licenses to use intellectual property rights relating to Nike and Converse products in the EMEA region. The two companies obtained the licenses, in return for a tax-deductible royalty payment, from two Nike group entities, which are currently Dutch entities that are “transparent” for tax purposes (i.e., not taxable in the Netherlands). From 2006 to 2015, the Dutch tax authorities issued five ... Read more
Germany vs Lender GmbH, June 2021, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No IR 4/17

Germany vs Lender GmbH, June 2021, Bundesfinanzhof, Case No IR 4/17

Applicable method for determining the arm’s length price in the case of a loan granted by a sister corporation domiciled abroad: (1) Are the three recognised methods for determining arm’s length prices (price comparison method, resale method and cost plus method) equally applicable? (2) Should the price comparison method be used if a comparable price can be determined on the basis of identical service relationships and conditions, and the cost-plus method if there are no comparable service relationships within or outside the group? (3) is an estimate of the appropriate transfer pricing to be made if the domestic borrower which receives a loan from the foreign sister corporation, in breach of its obligations to cooperate under section 90(2) sentence 1 AO, is unable to provide all the evidence necessary to determine a transfer pricing in accordance with arm’s length principles? Background In the specific facts of the case (I R 4/17), a domestic limited liability company (plaintiff) is held by ... Read more
India vs Concentrix Services & Optum Global Solutions Netherlands B.V., March 2021, High Court, Case No 9051/2020 and 2302/2021

India vs Concentrix Services & Optum Global Solutions Netherlands B.V., March 2021, High Court, Case No 9051/2020 and 2302/2021

The controversy in the case of India vs Concentrix Services Netherlands B.V. & Optum Global Solutions International Netherlands B.V., was the rate of withholding tax to be applied on dividends paid by the Indian subsidiaries (Concentrix Services India Private Limited & Optum Global Solutions India Private Limited) to its participating (more than 10% ownership) shareholders in the Netherlands. The shareholders in the Netherlands held that withholding tax on dividends should be applied by a rate of only 5%, whereas the Indian tax authorities applied a rate of 10%. The difference in opinions relates to interpretation of a protocol to the tax treaty between India and the Netherlands containing an most favoured nation clause (MFN clause). MFN clauses provides that the parties to the treaty (here India and the Netherlands) are obliged to provide each other with a treatment no less favourable than the treatment they provide under other treaties in the areas covered by the MFN clause. The MFN Clause in ... Read more
France vs Ferragamo France, November 2020, Conseil d'Etat, Case No 425577

France vs Ferragamo France, November 2020, Conseil d’Etat, Case No 425577

Ferragamo France, which was set up in 1992 and is wholly owned by the Dutch company Ferragamo International BV, which in turn is owned by the Italian company Salvatore Ferragamo Spa, carries on the business of retailing shoes, leather goods and luxury accessories and distributes, in shops in France, products under the ‘Salvatore Ferragamo’ brand, which is owned by the Italian parent company. An assessment had been issued to Ferragamo France in which the French tax authorities asserted that the French subsidiary had not been sufficiently remunerated for additional expenses and contributions to the value of the Ferragamo trademark. The French subsidiary had been remunerated on a gross margin basis, but had incurred losses in previous years and had indirect cost exceeding those of the selected comparable companies. The Administrative Court decided in favour of Ferragamo and dismissed the assessment. According to the Court the tax administration has not demonstrated the existence of an advantage granted by Ferragamo France to ... Read more
Bulgaria vs CBS, October 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 12349

Bulgaria vs CBS, October 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No 12349

By judgment of 22 May 2020, the Administrative Court set aside a tax assessment in which CBS International Netherlands B.V. had been denied reimbursement of withholding tax related to royalties and license payments. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities with the Supreme Administrative Court. In the appeal the tax authorities held that the beneficial owner of the licence and royalty payments was not CBS International Netherlands B.V. but instead CBS CORPORATION, a company incorporated and domiciled in New York, USA. According to the tax authorities the main function of CBS International Netherlands B.V. was that of an intermediary between the end customers and the beneficial owner. This was further supported by the transfer pricing documentation, according to which the US company that bears the risk of the development activity, the market risk is borne equally by the two companies, and the only risks borne by the Dutch company are the currency, operational and credit risks, which in turn ... 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
Panama vs X S.A., September 2020, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-065

Panama vs X S.A., September 2020, Administrative Tax Court, Case No TAT-RF-065

An assessment was issued where the tax administration denied the application treaty benefits, understanding that the dividends distributed by X S.A. a company with tax residence in Panama, to its shareholder NL Corp in the Netherlands did not qualify for the reduced rate provided for in the DTA because the latter was not the “beneficial owner” of the dividends. Judgement of the Tax Court The court upheld the assessment. “By virtue of the above, we consider that the possibility that the tax administration of the State in which the benefits of the Convention are requested, in this case Panama, also depends on the analysis of the body of evidence, and it is not apparent that the taxpayer has provided, in a timely manner, documentation related to the elements described above, therefore, we do not consider the request to be admissible, as it has not been duly supported by the taxpayer. By virtue of the foregoing considerations, and the fact that ... Read more
Greece vs "G Pharma Ltd", july 2020, Tax Court, Case No 1582/2020

Greece vs “G Pharma Ltd”, july 2020, Tax Court, Case No 1582/2020

“G Pharma Ltd” is a distributor of generic and specialised pharmaceutical products purchased exclusively from affiliated suppliers. It has no significant intangible assets nor does it assume any significant risks. However for 17 consecutive years it has had losses. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment, where the income of G Pharma Ltd was determined by application of the Transactional Net Margin Method (TNMM). According to the tax authorities a limited risk distributor such as G Pharma Ltd would be expected to be compensated with a small, guaranteed, positive profitability. G Pharma Ltd disagreed with the assessment and filed an appeal. Judgement of the Court The court dismissed the appeal of G Pharma Ltd and upheld the assessment issued by the tax authorities. Excerpts “First, the reasons for the rejection of the final comparable sample of two companies were set out in detail and then the reasons for using the net profit margin as an appropriate indicator of ... Read more
Fiat Chrysler reaches a EUR 2.5 billion settelment with the Italien tax authorities

Fiat Chrysler reaches a EUR 2.5 billion settelment with the Italien tax authorities

Fiat Chrysler has reached a settlement with the Italian tax agency over taxable gains related to a transfer of the U.S. Chrysler business from Fiat SpA Italy to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (Netherlands). The Italian tax agency claimed that the value of the U.S. Chrysler business had been underestimated and issued a preliminary assessment with an additional taxable gain of 5.1 billion euros. The agency had valued Chrysler at 12.5 billion euros, while Fiat SpA had declared it to be worth less than 7.5 billion. Under the terms of the latter settlement the additional taxable gain has agreed at 2.5 billion euros ... Read more
Google - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Google – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Google’s tax affairs are back in the spotlight after filings in the Netherlands have showed that billions of dollars were moved to Bermuda in 2016 using the “double Irish Dutch sandwich”. According to the Washington Post, Google’s cash transfers to Bermuda reached $27b in 2016. Google uses the double Irish Dutch sandwich structure to shield the majority of it’s international profits from taxation. The setup involves shifting revenue from one Irish subsidiary to a Dutch company with no employees, and then on to a Bermuda-mailbox owned by another company registered in Ireland. US According to US filings, Google’s global effective tax rate in 2016 was 19.3%. New US tax law will give companies such as Google an incentive to repatriate much of that cash by offering them a “one-time”, 15.5% tax rate on offshore funds. After that, foreign earnings will be taxed at 10.5%, with companies allowed to deduct foreign tax liabilities from this amount. The law will also impose ... Read more
Microsoft - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Microsoft – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Microsoft’s tax affairs have been in the spotlight of tax authorities all over the World during the last decade. Why? The setup used by Microsoft involves shifting profits from sales in the US, Europe and Asia to regional operating centers placed in low tax jurisdictions (Bermuda, Luxembourg, Ireland, Singapore and Puerto Rico). The following text has been provided by Microsoft in a US filing concerning effective tax and global allocation of income: “Our effective tax rate for the three months ended September 30, 2017 and 2016 was 18% and 17%, respectively. Our effective tax rate was lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions resulting from producing and distributing our products and services through our foreign regional operations centers in Ireland, Singapore, and Puerto Rico.“ “In fiscal year 2017, our U.S. income before income taxes was $6.8 billion and our foreign income before income taxes was $23.1 billion. In fiscal year 2016, ... Read more
European Commission vs. The Netherlands and Starbucks, September 2019, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T-760/15

European Commission vs. The Netherlands and Starbucks, September 2019, General Court of the European Union, Case No. T-760/15

In 2008, the Netherlands tax authorities concluded an advance pricing arrangement (APA) with Starbucks Manufacturing EMEA BV (Starbucks BV), part of the Starbucks group, which, inter alia, roasts coffees. The objective of that arrangement was to determine Starbucks BV’s remuneration for its production and distribution activities within the group. Thereafter, Starbucks BV’s remuneration served to determine annually its taxable profit on the basis of Netherlands corporate income tax. In addition, the APA endorsed the amount of the royalty paid by Starbucks BV to Alki, another entity of the same group, for the use of Starbucks’ roasting IP. More specifically, the APA provided that the amount of the royalty to be paid to Alki corresponded to Starbucks BV’s residual profit. The amount was determined by deducting Starbucks BV’s remuneration, calculated in accordance with the APA, from Starbucks BV’s operating profit. In 2015, the Commission found that the APA constituted aid incompatible with the internal market and ordered the recovery of that ... Read more
Italy vs Agusta Holding BV, May 2019, Supreme Court, Case No 14527/2019

Italy vs Agusta Holding BV, May 2019, Supreme Court, Case No 14527/2019

A Dutch company, Agusta Holding BV, submitted a request regarding the reimbursement of withholding tax paid in Italy by its Italian subsidiary on dividends distributed for the fiscal year 2001. The request was initially accepted and the withholding tax paid back. But after an audit, the reimbursement was then challenged. The tax authorities found that Agusta Holding BV had been incorporated in the Netherlands only to benefit from the favourable fiscal dividend regime provided by the Italian-Netherland double tax treaty and from the Dutch tax regime concerning the exemption of dividends from taxable income. Agusta Holding BV appealed the decision of the tax office before the Provincial Tax Court which ruled in favor of Augusta Holding BV as the deadline to ask for the reimbursement of the withholding tax back had expired at the time of the audit conducted by local tax office. The local tax office appealed this decision before the Regional Tax Court. The Regional Tax Court overturned ... 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
The European Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Nike and Converse in the Netherlands

The European Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Nike and Converse in the Netherlands

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether tax rulings granted by the Netherlands to Nike 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 complex structures that unduly reduce their taxable profits and give them an unfair advantage over competitors. The Commission will investigate carefully the tax treatment of Nike in the Netherlands, to assess whether it is in line with EU State aid rules. At the same time, I welcome the actions taken by the Netherlands to reform their corporate taxation rules and to help ensure that companies will operate on a level playing field in the EU.” Nike is a US based company involved worldwide in the design, marketing and manufacturing of footwear, clothing, equipment and accessories, in particular in the sports area. The formal investigation concerns ... Read more
Switzerland vs "Pharma X SA", December 2018, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_11/2018

Switzerland vs “Pharma X SA”, December 2018, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_11/2018

A Swiss company manufactured and distributed pharmaceutical and chemical products. The Swiss company was held by a Dutch parent that held another company in France. R&D activities were delegated by the Dutch parent to its French subsidiary and compensated with cost plus 15%. On that basis the Swiss company had to pay a royalty to its Dutch parent of 2.5% of its turnover for using the IP developed. Following an audit the Swiss tax authorities concluded that the Dutch parent did not contribute to the development of IP. In 2006 and 2007, no employees were employed, and in 2010 and 2011 there were only three employees. Hence the royalty agreement was disregarded and an assessment issued where the royalty payments were denied. Instead the R&D agreement between the Dutch parent and the French subsidiary was regarded as having been concluded between the Swiss and French companies Judgement of the Supreme Court The Court agreed with the decision of the tax ... Read more
Korea vs CJ E&M Co., Ltd. , November 2018, Supreme Court Case no. 2017두33008

Korea vs CJ E&M Co., Ltd. , November 2018, Supreme Court Case no. 2017두33008

In 2011, a Korean company, CJ E&M Co., Ltd concluded a license agreement relating to the domestic distribution of Paramount films, etc. with Hungary-based entity Viacom International Hungary Kft (hereinafter “VIH”), which is affiliated with the global entertainment content group Viacom that owns the film producing company Paramount and music channel MTV. From around that time to December 2013, the Plaintiff paid VIH royalties amounting to roughly KRW 13.5 billion (hereinafter “pertinent royalty income”). CJ E&M Co., Ltd did not withhold the corporate tax regarding the pertinent royalty income according to Article 12(1) of the Convention between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of the Hungarian People’s Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income (hereinafter “Korea-Hungary Tax Treaty”). The Hungarian company was interposed between the Korean entertainment company and a Dutch company which previously licensed the rights to the Korean entertainment company. The Korean ... Read more
Pharma and Tax Avoidance, Report from Oxfam

Pharma and Tax Avoidance, Report from Oxfam

New Oxfam research shows that four pharmaceutical corporations — Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer — systematically allocate super profits in overseas tax havens. In eight advanced economies, pharmaceutical profits averaged 7 percent, while in seven developing countries they averaged 5 percent. In comparison, profits margins averaged 31 percent in countries with low or no corporate tax rates – Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands and Singapore. The report exposes how pharmaceutical corporations uses sophisticated tax planning to avoid taxes. cr-prescription-for-poverty-pharma-180918-en ... Read more
France vs Philips, September 2018, Conseil d’État, Case No 405779

France vs Philips, September 2018, Conseil d’État, Case No 405779

Philips France SAS provides contract R&D to it’s Dutch parent. Compensation for the service was calculated as cost plus 10%. In the years 2003 to 2007 Philips France received government subsidies for performing R&D. These subsidies had been deducted by the company from the cost base before calculating of the cost plus remuneration. The French tax authorities issued a tax assessment where the deduction was denied and the remuneration calculated on the full cost base. The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that a deduction of subsidies from the cost base does not constitute a “transfer of profits abroad” and allowed the reduced cost base for calculation of the arm’s length remuneration.  Click here for English translation Click here for other translation CÉt_8ème_-_3ème_chambres_réunies_19_09_2018_405779 ... Read more
European Commission's investigations into member state transfer pricing and tax ruling practices

European Commission’s investigations into member state transfer pricing and tax ruling practices

Since June 2013, the European Commission has been investigating tax ruling practices of EU Member States. A Task Force was set up in summer 2013 to follow up on allegations of favourable tax treatment of certain companies, in particular in the form of unilateral tax rulings. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) provides that “any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market.”. The State aid rules ensures that the functioning of the internal market is not distorted by anticompetitive behavior favouring some to the detriment of others. In June 2014 the Commission initiated a series of State aid investigations on Multinational Corporations related to transfer pricing practices and rulings. Final decisions now have been published ... Read more
Apple - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Apple – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Apple’s tax affairs have been in the spotlight of tax authorities for decades – and still are! Settlements have been entered with numerous European Countries, among others – Italy, the UK and France. Apple has also been investigated by the EU and a State Aid ruling was issued in August 2016. According to the ruling “Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple” and the European Commission ordered Apple to pay €13 billion, plus interest, in unpaid Irish taxes from 2004–14 to the Irish state. U.S. Senate scrutiny of Apple Inc.’s tax strategies back in 2009 turned the spotlight on a stateless entity with $30 billion in profit since 2009 that’s incorporated in Ireland, controlled by a board in California, and didn’t pay taxes in either place ... Read more
India vs. Vodafone India Services Pvt Ltd, Jan 2018, ITA No.565 Ahd 2017

India vs. Vodafone India Services Pvt Ltd, Jan 2018, ITA No.565 Ahd 2017

The 2018 Vodafone case from India – whether termination of option rights under an agreement can be treated as a “deemed international transaction” under section 92B(2) of the Income Tax Act. Vodafone India Services had a call option to buy shares in SMMS Investment Pvt Ltd — which held 5.11% equity capital of the Vodafone India through a web of holdings for 2.78 crore if the fair market value of these shares was less than 1,500 crore. If the fair market value was higher, it had to pay a little more. Under the same agreement, if Vodafone India Services terminated its right to acquire the share, the company would have to pay Rs 21.25 crore. Instead of exercising the call option and acquiring the valuable shares at a very low price, Vodafone India Service terminated the option and paid 21.25 crore. The tax administration held that the Vodafone India Service should have received a substantial consideration for not exercising the ... Read more
Africa - Mining and Transfer Pricing

Africa – Mining and Transfer Pricing

Most Sub Saharan African jurisdictions see the area of mineral transfers/sales as the main transfer pricing risk, but only few have systems in place to check if prices applied to minerals transferred to related parties comply with the arm’s length principle. Studies highlights a strong need for capacity strengthening in the area of transfer pricing throughout the African continent and for enhancing the knowledge of mining industry within tax authorities. South Africa has, for many years, been the leader in transfer pricing audits among the African countries. But emerging countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, are now making a concerted effort to develop transfer pricing capability. In Tanzania, for example, the Acasia Mining Plc. was recently  issued a USD 190 billion tax bill. The assessment demonstrates a strong political will in Africa to address transfer pricing non-compliance. A paper commissioned by the World Bank highlights transfer pricing issues within the African Mining industry. Not surprisingly, it seems that most of the transfer pricing problems relates ... Read more
European Commission vs. Netherlands and IKEA, Dec. 2017

European Commission vs. Netherlands and IKEA, Dec. 2017

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the Netherlands’ tax treatment of Inter IKEA, one of the two groups operating the IKEA business. The Commission has concerns that two Dutch tax rulings may have allowed Inter IKEA to pay less tax and given them an unfair advantage over other companies, in breach of EU State aid rules. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: “All companies, big or small, multinational or not, should pay their fair share of tax. Member States cannot let selected companies pay less tax by allowing them to artificially shift their profits elsewhere. We will now carefully investigate the Netherlands’ tax treatment of Inter IKEA.” In the early 1980s, the IKEA business model changed into a franchising model. Since then, it has been the Inter IKEA group that operates the franchise business of IKEA, using the “IKEA franchise concept”. What this means more concretely is that Inter IKEA does not own the ... Read more
US vs. Hewlett Packard, November 2017, Court of Appeals, Case No 14-73047

US vs. Hewlett Packard, November 2017, Court of Appeals, Case No 14-73047

This issue in this case is qualification of an investment as debt or equity. HP bought preferred stock in Foppingadreef Investments, a Dutch company. Foppingadreef Investments bought contingent interest notes, from which FOP’s preferred stock received dividends that HP claimed as foreign tax credits. HP claimed millions in foreign tax credits between 1997 and 2003, then exercised its option to sell its preferred shares for a capital loss of more than $16 million. The IRS characterized the transaction as debt, and denied the tax credits claimed by Hewlett Packard. First the Tax Court and later the Court of Appeal agreed with the tax authorities. The eleven factors considered by the Court when qualifying an investment as debt/equity the names given to the certificates evidencing the indebtedness; the presence or absence of a maturity date; the source of the payments; the right to enforce the payment of principal and interest; participation and management; a status equal to or inferior to that of ... Read more

South Africa vs. Kumba Iron Ore, 2017, Settlement 2.5bn

A transfer pricing dispute between South African Revenue Service and Sishen Iron Ore, a subsidiary of Kumba Iron Ore, has now been resolved in a settlement of ZAR 2.5bn. The case concerned disallowance of sales commissions paid to offshore sales and marketing subsidiaries in Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Hong Kong. Since 2012, Kumba Iron Ore’s international marketing has been integrated with the larger Anglo American group’s Singapore-based marketing hub. The settlement follows a similar investigations into the transfer pricing activities of Evraz Highveld Steel, which resulted in a R685 million tax claim against the now-bankrupt company related to apparent tax evasion using an Austrian shell company between 2007 and 2009 ... Read more
Australian Parliament Hearings - Tax Avoidance

Australian Parliament Hearings – Tax Avoidance

In a public hearing held 22 August 2017 in Sydney Australia by the Economics References Committee, tech companies IBM, Microsoft, and Apple were called to the witnesses stand to explain about tax avoidance schemes – use of “regional headquarters” in low tax jurisdictions (Singapore, Ireland and the Netherlands) to avoid or reduce taxes. Follow the ongoing Australian hearings into corporate tax avoidance on this site: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Corporatetax45th Transcript from the hearing: Tax Avoidance, Australian Senate Hearing, 22 August 2017 ... Read more
Uncovering Low Tax Jurisdictions and Conduit Jurisdictions

Uncovering Low Tax Jurisdictions and Conduit Jurisdictions

By Javier Garcia-Bernardo, Jan Fichtner, Frank W. Takes, & Eelke M. Heemskerk Multinational corporations use highly complex structures of parents and subsidiaries to organize their operations and ownership. Offshore Financial Centers (OFCs) facilitate these structures through low taxation and lenient regulation, but are increasingly under scrutiny, for instance for enabling tax avoidance. Therefore, the identifcation of OFC jurisdictions has become a politicized and contested issue. We introduce a novel data-driven approach for identifying OFCs based on the global corporate ownership network, in which over 98 million firms (nodes) are connected through 71 million ownership relations. This granular firm-level network data uniquely allows identifying both sink-OFCs and conduit-OFCs. Sink-OFCs attract and retain foreign capital while conduit-OFCs are attractive intermediate destinations in the routing of international investments and enable the transfer of capital without taxation. We identify 24 sink-OFCs. In addition, a small set of countries – the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland – canalize the majority of corporate ... Read more
Germany vs "A Investment GmbH", June 2017, Tax Court , Case no 10 K 771/16

Germany vs “A Investment GmbH”, June 2017, Tax Court , Case no 10 K 771/16

A Investment GmbH, acquired all shares of B in May 2012. To finance the acquisition, A Investment GmbH took up a bank loan (term: 5 years; interest rate: 4.78%; secured; senior), a vendor loan (term: 6 years; interest rate: 10%; unsecured; subordinated) and a shareholder loan (term: 9 to 10 years; interest rate: 8%; unsecured; subordinated). The 8 % interest rate on the shareholder loan was determined by A Investment GmbH by applying the CUP method based on external comparables. The German tax authority, found that the interest rate of 8 % did not comply with the arm’s length principle. An assessment was issued where the interest rate was set to 5% based on the interest rate on the bank loan (internal CUP). A Investment GmbH filed an appeal to Cologne Tax Court. The court ruled that the interest rate of the bank loan, 4.78%, was a reliable CUP for setting the arm’s length interest rate of the controlled loan. The ... Read more
European Commission vs. The Netherlands and Starbucks, March 2017 and October 2015, State Aid Investigation

European Commission vs. The Netherlands and Starbucks, March 2017 and October 2015, State Aid Investigation

The European Commission’s investigation on granting of selective tax advantages to Starbucks BV, cf. EU state aid rules. EU-vs-Starbucks-March-2017-State-Aid-investigation-2 EU-Starbucks-2015 ... Read more
Spain vs. Schwepps (Citresa), February 2017, Spanish Supreme Court, case nr. 293/2017

Spain vs. Schwepps (Citresa), February 2017, Spanish Supreme Court, case nr. 293/2017

The Spanish Tax administration made an income adjustment of Citresa (a Spanish subsidiary of the Schweeps Group) Corporate Income Tax for FY 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, resulting in a tax liability of €38.6 millon. Citresa entered into a franchise agreement and a contract manufacturing agreement with Schweppes International Limited (a related party resident in the Netherlands). The transactions between the related parties were not found to be in accordance with the arm’s length principle. In the parent company, CITRESA, the taxable income declared for the years 2003 to 2005 was increased as a result of an adjustment of market prices relating to the supply of certain fruit and other components by Citresa to Schweppes International Limited. In the subsidiary, SCHWEPPES, S.A. (SSA), the taxable income declared for the years 2003 to 2006 was increased as a result of adjustment of market prices relating to the supply of concentrates and extracts by the entity Schweppes International Limited, resident in Holland, to SSA. The taxpayer ... Read more
Oxfam's list of Tax Havens, December 2016

Oxfam’s list of Tax Havens, December 2016

Oxfam’s list of Tax Havens, in order of significance are: (1) Bermuda (2) the Cayman Islands (3) the Netherlands (4) Switzerland (5) Singapore (6) Ireland (7) Luxembourg (8) Curaçao (9) Hong Kong (10) Cyprus (11) Bahamas (12) Jersey (13) Barbados, (14) Mauritius and (15) the British Virgin Islands. Most notably is The Netherlands placement as no. 3 on the list. Oxfam researchers compiled the list by assessing the extent to which countries employ the most damaging tax policies, such as zero corporate tax rates, the provision of unfair and unproductive tax incentives, and a lack of cooperation with international processes against tax avoidance (including measures to increase financial transparency). Many of the countries on the list have been implicated in tax scandals. For example Ireland hit the headlines over a tax deal with Apple that enabled the global tech giant to pay a 0.005 percent corporate tax rate in the country. And the British Virgin Islands is home to more ... Read more
Germany vs "X Sub GmbH", December 2016, Münster Fiscal Court, Case No 13 K 4037/13 K,F

Germany vs “X Sub GmbH”, December 2016, Münster Fiscal Court, Case No 13 K 4037/13 K,F

X Sub GmbH is a German subsidiary of a multinational group. The parent company Y Par B.V. and the financial hub of the group Z Fin B.V. – a sister company to the German subsidiary – are both located in the Netherlands. In its function as a financial hub, Z Fin B.V granted several loans to X Sub GmbH. The interest rate on the loans had been determined by the group based on the CUP method. The German tax authority considered that the amount of interest on the inter-company loans paid by X Sub GmbH to Z Fin B.V. was too high. An assessment was issued where the interest rate was instead determined based on the cost-plus method. The differences in the calculated interest amounts was added to the taxable income of the German GmbH as a hidden profit distribution (vGA). X Sub GmbH filed a complaint to Münster Tax Court. Ruling of the Tax Court The tax court ruled ... Read more
Spain vs. ZERAIM IBÉRICA, SA, Oct. 2016, Spanish Supreme Court, Case no 4675-2016

Spain vs. ZERAIM IBÉRICA, SA, Oct. 2016, Spanish Supreme Court, Case no 4675-2016

In this case ZERAIM IBÉRICA SA argues that the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines has not been applied propperly, as secret comparables have been used in determining the arm’s length price of controlled transactions between the Spanish company and its Dutch parent company. The court concludes that the “..Guidelines are considered to be merely recommendations to States, which are given an interpretative value.” The appeal filed by the company is dismissed by the court. Click here for other translation Spain vs Zeraim 191016 Spanish Supreme Court 4675-2016 ... Read more
Russia vs British American Tobacco, Aug. 2014, Russian High Court

Russia vs British American Tobacco, Aug. 2014, Russian High Court

A russian subsidiary of British American Tobacco was found by the russian tax administration to have overpaid interest on loans from an affiliate in the Netherlands. The Court ruled in favor of the tax administration British-American-Tobacco russian case aug 21 2014 on intercompany loans 2008 and 2009 ... Read more
UK Parliament, House of Commons, Committee of Public Accounts, Hearings on Tax Avoidance Schemes

UK Parliament, House of Commons, Committee of Public Accounts, Hearings on Tax Avoidance Schemes

Follow the work of the UK Parliament, House of Commons Committee of Public Account, on corporate tax avoidance schemes. http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/taxation/ Statements from Amazon, Google and Starbucks, November 2012 UK Parlement, September 2012 Google Amazon Starbucks Statement from Google June 2013 UK Parlement, June 2013, Tax Avoidance–Google ... Read more
Sweden vs Cambrex, April 2013, Administrative Court, Case No. 456-11

Sweden vs Cambrex, April 2013, Administrative Court, Case No. 456-11

In the Cambrix case the issue was whether the interest rate on an shareholder loan had been at arm’s length. The court concluded that the burden of proof was on the Swedish tax authorities and that sufficient evidence had not been provided to support the claim that the interest rate had not been at arm’s length. Click here for translation Sweden vs Cambrex AB 2013-04-26 ... Read more
Germany vs "Spedition Gmbh", December 2012, Federal Tax Court 11.10.2012, I R 75/11

Germany vs “Spedition Gmbh”, December 2012, Federal Tax Court 11.10.2012, I R 75/11

Spedition Gmbh entered a written agreement – at year-end – to pay management fees to its Dutch parent for services received during the year. The legal question was the relationship between arm’s-length principle as included in double tax treaties and the norms for income assessments in German tax law. The assessment of the tax office claiming a hidden distribution of profits because of the “retrospective” effect of the written agreement, was rejected by the Court. According to the Court the double tax treaty provisions bases the arm’s length standard on amount, rather than on the reason for, or documentation, of a transaction. Click here for English translation Click here for other translation Germany-vs-Corp-October-2012-BUNDESFINANZHOF-Urteil-IR-75-11- ... Read more
US vs PepsiCo, September 2012, US Tax Court, 155 T.C. Memo 2012-269

US vs PepsiCo, September 2012, US Tax Court, 155 T.C. Memo 2012-269

PepsiCo had devised hybrid securities, which were treated as debt in the Netherlands and equity in the United States. Hence, the payments were treated as tax deductible interest expenses in the Netherlands but as tax free dividend income on equity in the US. The IRS held that the payments received from PepsiCo in the Netherlands should also be characterised as taxable interest payments for federal income tax purposes and issued an assessment for FY 1998 to 2002. PepsiCo brought the assessment before the US Tax Court. Based on a 13 factors-analysis the Court concluded that the payments made to PepsiCo were best characterised as nontaxable returns on capital investment and set aside the assessment. Factors considered were: (1) names or labels given to the instruments; (2) presence or absence of a fixed maturity date; (3) source of payments; (4) right to enforce payments; (5) participation in management as a result of the advances; (6) status of the advances in relation ... Read more
Canada vs VELCRO CANADA INC., February 2012, Tax Court, Case No 2012 TCC 57

Canada vs VELCRO CANADA INC., February 2012, Tax Court, Case No 2012 TCC 57

The Dutch company, Velcro Holdings BV (“VHBV”), licensed IP from an affiliated company in the Dutch Antilles, Velcro Industries BV (“VIBV”), and sublicensed this IP to a Canadian company, Velcro Canada Inc. (VCI). VHBV was obliged to pay 90% of the royalties received from VCI. within 30 days after receipt to VIBV. At issue was whether VHBV qualified as Beneficial Owner of the royalty payments from VCI and consequently would be entitled to a reduced withholding tax – from 25% (the Canadian domestic rate) to 10% (the rate under article 12 of the treaty between Canada and the Netherlands). The tax authorities considered that VHBV did not qualify as Beneficial Owner and denied application of the reduced withholding tax rate. Judgement of the Tax Court The court set aside the decision of the tax authorities and decided in favor of VCI. Excerpts: “VHBV obviously has some discretion based on the facts as noted above regarding the use and application of ... Read more
India vs Vodafone International Holdings BV, 2012, Supreme Court

India vs Vodafone International Holdings BV, 2012, Supreme Court

In the Vodafone case, the Supreme Court of India found that tax planning within the law will be valid as long as it does not amount to a colourable device. India Vodafone-International-Holding-BV-2012 ... Read more
Japan vs Adobe Systems Co., October 2008, Tokyo High Court

Japan vs Adobe Systems Co., October 2008, Tokyo High Court

Adobe Systems Co., a Japanese subsidiary of Adobe Systems Inc., received remuneration from Dutch and Irish group companies for promotion and marketing of Adobe software sold in Japan The remuneration of Adobe Systems Co. was determined as general administrative expenses plus 1.5% of net sales in Japan. A transfer pricing assessment was issued by the Japanese tax authorities where transfer prices were instead based profit margins derived in comparable transactions. Adobe Systems filed an appeal seeking revokal of the assessment. Tokyo High Court held that the tax assessment should be revoked. The burden of proof in relation to the legitimacy of the transfer pricing method applied was on the tax administration. The transfer pricing method used by the tax authority was not consistent with the resale price method. The method applied by the tax authorities “…cannot be said to be “a method equivalent to the resale price standard method” prescribed in Article 66-4, Paragraph 2, Item 2, b of the ... Read more
Canada vs Prévost Car Inc, April 2008, Tax Court of Canada, Case No 2008 TCC 231

Canada vs Prévost Car Inc, April 2008, Tax Court of Canada, Case No 2008 TCC 231

Prévost is a resident Canadian corporation who declared and paid dividends to its shareholder Prévost Holding B.V. (“PHB.V.”), a corporation resident in the Netherlands. When Prévost paid the dividends it withheld five percent in tax. The tax authorities issued an assessments against Prévost in respect of the aforementioned dividends. The tax authorities assessed on the basis that the beneficial owners of the dividends were the corporate shareholders of PHB.V., a resident of the United Kingdom and a resident of Sweden, and not PHB.V. itself. An appeal was filed with the tax court by the company. “… one does not pierce the corporate veil unless the corporation is a conduit for another person and has absolutely no discretion as to the use or application of funds put through it as conduit, or has agreed to act on someone else’s behalf pursuant to that person’s instructions without any right to do other than what that person instructs it, for example, a stockbroker ... Read more