Tag: Substance over form

The tax doctrine of “substance over form” is a judicial creation applied in many countries. It is often used by the courts in cases where a taxpayer has constructed a scheme of transactional relationships in documents only or primarily to obtain tax benefits. If the tax motivation outweigh the business purpose and/or profit objective of the transaction, courts will decide that “form” (written contracts and arrangements) does not reflect the “substance” (the real deal) and on that basis denie the intented tax benefits.

See also delineation, labelling and business reasons/purpose.

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

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.91

The provisions of Section D.1.1 of Chapter I apply in identifying the specific nature of a transaction involving a transfer of intangibles or rights in intangibles, in identifying the nature of any intangibles transferred, and in identifying any limitations imposed by the terms of the transfer on the use of those intangibles. For example, a written specification that a licence is non-exclusive or of limited duration need not be respected by the tax administration if such specification is not consistent with the conduct of the parties. Example 18 in the Annex I to Chapter VI illustrates the provisions of this paragraph ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter VI paragraph 6.34

The framework for analysing transactions involving intangibles between associated enterprises requires taking the following steps, consistent with the guidance for identifying the commercial or financial relations provided in Section D. 1 of Chapter I: i) Identify the intangibles used or transferred in the transaction with specificity and the specific, economically significant risks associated with the development, enhancement, maintenance, protection, and exploitation of the intangibles; ii) Identify the full contractual arrangements, with special emphasis on determining legal ownership of intangibles based on the terms and conditions of legal arrangements, including relevant registrations, licence agreements, other relevant contracts, and other indicia of legal ownership, and the contractual rights and obligations, including contractual assumption of risks in the relations between the associated enterprises; iii) Identify the parties performing functions (including specifically the important functions described in paragraph 6.56), using assets, and managing risks related to developing, enhancing, maintaining, protecting, and exploiting the intangibles by means of the functional analysis, and in particular which ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.148

Company S1 conducts research activities to develop intangibles that it uses to create new products that it can produce and sell. It agrees to transfer to an associated company, Company S2, unlimited rights to all future intangibles which may arise from its future work over a period of twenty years for a lump sum payment. The arrangement is commercially irrational for both parties since neither Company S1 nor Company S2 has any reliable means to determine whether the payment reflects an appropriate valuation, both because it is uncertain what range of development activities Company S1 might conduct over the period and also because valuing the potential outcomes would be entirely speculative. Under the guidance in this section, the structure of the arrangement adopted by the taxpayer, including the form of payment, should be modified for the purposes of the transfer pricing analysis. The replacement structure should be guided by the economically relevant characteristics, including the functions performed, assets used, and ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.147

Under the guidance in this section, the transaction should not be recognised. S1 is treated as not purchasing insurance and its profits are not reduced by the payment to S2; S2 is treated as not issuing insurance and therefore not being liable for any claim ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.146

Company S1 carries on a manufacturing business that involves holding substantial inventory and a significant investment in plant and machinery. It owns commercial property situated in an area prone to increasingly frequent flooding in recent years. Third-party insurers experience significant uncertainty over the exposure to large claims, with the result that there is no active market for the insurance of properties in the area. Company S2, an associated enterprise, provides insurance to Company S1, and an annual premium representing 80% of the value of the inventory, property and contents is paid by Company S1. In this example S1 has entered into a commercially irrational transaction since there is no market for insurance given the likelihood of significant claims, and either relocation or not insuring may be more attractive realistic alternatives. Since the transaction is commercially irrational, there is not a price that is acceptable to both S1 and S2 from their individual perspectives ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.144

The structure that for transfer pricing purposes, replaces that actually adopted by the taxpayers should comport as closely as possible with the facts of the actual transaction undertaken whilst achieving a commercially rational expected result that would have enabled the parties to come to a price acceptable to both of them at the time the arrangement was entered into ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.143

The key question in the analysis is whether the actual transaction possesses the commercial rationality of arrangements that would be agreed between unrelated parties under comparable economic circumstances, not whether the same transaction can be observed between independent parties. The non-recognition of a transaction that possesses the commercial rationality of an arm’s length arrangement is not an appropriate application of the arm’s length principle. Restructuring of legitimate business transactions would be a wholly arbitrary exercise the inequity of which could be compounded by double taxation created where the other tax administration does not share the same views as to how the transaction should be structured. It should again be noted that the mere fact that the transaction may not be seen between independent parties does not mean that it does not have characteristics of an arm’s length arrangement ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.142

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

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.141

Every effort should be made to determine pricing for the actual transaction as accurately delineated under the arm’s length principle. The various tools and methods available to tax administrations and taxpayers to do so are set out in the following chapters of these Guidelines. A tax administration should not disregard the actual transaction or substitute other transactions for it unless the exceptional circumstances described in the following paragraphs 1.142-1.145 apply ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.140

In performing the analysis, the actual transaction between the parties will have been deduced from written contracts and the conduct of the parties. Formal conditions recognised in contracts will have been clarified and supplemented by analysis of the conduct of the parties and the other economically relevant characteristics of the transaction (see Section D.1.1). Where the characteristics of the transaction that are economically significant are inconsistent with the written contract, then the actual transaction will have been delineated in accordance with the characteristics of the transaction reflected in the conduct of the parties. Contractual risk assumption and actual conduct with respect to risk assumption will have been examined taking into account control over the risk (as defined in paragraphs 1.65-1.68) and the financial capacity to assume risk (as defined in paragraph 1.64), and consequently, risks assumed under the contract may have been allocated in accordance with the conduct of the parties and the other facts on the basis of steps ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.139

Following the guidance in the previous section, the transfer pricing analysis will have identified the substance of the commercial or financial relations between the parties, and will have accurately delineated the actual transaction by analysing the economically relevant characteristics ... Read more

TPG2022 Chapter I paragraph 1.45

If the characteristics of the transaction that are economically relevant are inconsistent with the written contract between the associated enterprises, the actual transaction should generally be delineated for purposes of the transfer pricing analysis in accordance with the characteristics of the transaction reflected in the conduct of the parties ... Read more
Indonesia vs P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd., December 2021, Supreme Court, Case No. 5291/B/PK/PJK/2020

Indonesia vs P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd., December 2021, Supreme Court, Case No. 5291/B/PK/PJK/2020

P.T. Sanken Indonesia Ltd. – an Indonesian subsidiary of Sanken Electric Co., Ltd. Japan – paid royalties to its Japanese parent for use of IP. The royalty payment was calculated based on external sales and therefore did not include sales of products to group companies. The royalty payments were deducted for tax purposes. Following an audit, the tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions for the royalty payments were denied. According to the authorities the license agreement had not been registrered in Indonesia. Furthermore, the royalty payment was found not to have been determined in accordance with the arm’s length principle. P.T. Sanken issued a complaint over the decision with the Tax Court, where the assessment later was set aside. This decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court by the tax authorities. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the tax authorities and upheld the decision of the Tax Court. The OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines ... 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
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
Indonesia vs PT Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard Ltd, December 2020 Supreme Court, Case No. 4446/B/PK/Pjk/2020

Indonesia vs PT Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard Ltd, December 2020 Supreme Court, Case No. 4446/B/PK/Pjk/2020

PT Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard Ltd reported losses for FY 2013. The tax authorities issued an assessment where the income of the company was increased by a substantial amount referring to applicable transfer pricing regulations. Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard Ltd filed a complaint with the Tax Court, but the Tax Court upheld the assessment. An application for judicial review was then filed with the Supreme Court. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard Ltd. The Tax Court had erred in assessing facts, data, evidence and application of the law. The decision of the Tax Court was canceled and the petition for judicial review was granted. Losses reported by Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard Ltd were not due to non-arm’s length pricing, but rather exceptional circumstances that occurred at the local company in the years following 2010. Excerpts: ” … a. that the reasons for the Petitioner’s petition for judicial review in the a quo case are positive corrections ... Read more
Uganda vs East African Breweries International Ltd. July 2020, Tax Appeals Tribunal, Case no. 14 of 2017

Uganda vs East African Breweries International Ltd. July 2020, Tax Appeals Tribunal, Case no. 14 of 2017

East African Breweries International Ltd (applicant) is a wholly owned subsidiary of East African Breweries Limited, and is incorporated in Kenya. East African Breweries International Ltd was involved in developing the markets of the companies in countries that did not have manufacturing operations. The company did not carry out marketing services in Uganda but was marketing Ugandan products outside Uganda. After sourcing customers, they pay to the applicant. A portion is remitted to Uganda Breweries Limited and East African Breweries International Ltd then adds a markup on the products obtained from Uganda Breweries Limited sold to customers in other countries. East African Breweries International Ltd would pay a markup of 7.5 % to Uganda Breweries and then sell the items at a markup of 70 to 90%. In July 2015 the tax authorities (respondent) audited Uganda Breweries Limited, also a subsidiary of East African Breweries Limited, and found information relating to transactions with the East African Breweries International Ltd for ... Read more
Switzerland vs Swiss Investment AG, February 2020, Administrative Court Zurich, Case No SB.2018.00094 and SB.2018.00095

Switzerland vs Swiss Investment AG, February 2020, Administrative Court Zurich, Case No SB.2018.00094 and SB.2018.00095

Two Swiss investors had established a structure for the management of a private equity fund in the form of a Swiss “Investment Advisor” AG and a Jersey “Investment Mananger” Ltd. They each held 50% of the shares in the Swiss AG and 50% of the shares in the Jersey Ltd. Swiss AG and Jersey Ltd then entered an investment advisory agreement whereby the Swiss AG carried out all advisory activities on behalf of Jersey Ltd and Jersey Ltd assumed all the risk of the investments. Both investors were employed by Swiss AG and Jersey Ltd had no employees execpt two directors who each received a yearly payment of CFH 15,000. According to the investment advisory agreement Jersey Ltd would remunerate the Swiss AG with 66% of the gross fee income. The Swiss AG would carry out all relevant functions related to investment advisory and recommend to Jersey Ltd acquisition targets which the latter would then evaluate and subsequently decides on ... Read more
Loading...