Tag: Tax avoidance

Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi Malaysia SDN. BHD., July 2021, Juridical Review, High Court, Case No. WA-25-233-08-2020

Malaysia vs Ensco Gerudi Malaysia SDN. BHD., July 2021, Juridical Review, High Court, Case No. WA-25-233-08-2020

Ensco Gerudi provided offshore drilling services to the petroleum industry in Malaysia, including leasing drilling rigs, to oil and gas operators in Malaysia. In order to provide these services, the Ensco entered into a Master Charter Agreement dated 21.9.2006 (amended on 17.8.2011) (“Master Charter Agreement”) with Ensco Labuan Limited (“ELL”), a third-party contractor, to lease drilling rigs from ELL. Ensco then rents out the drilling rigs to its own customers. As part of the Master Charter Agreement, Ensco agreed to pay ELL a percentage of the applicable day rate that Ensco earns from its drilling contracts with its customers for the drilling rigs. By way of a letter dated 12.10.2018, the tax authorities initiated its audit for FY 2015 to 2017. The tax authorities issued its first audit findings letter on 23.10.2019 where it took the position that the pricing of the leasing transactions between the Applicant and ELL are not at arm’s length pursuant to s 140A of the ... Continue to full case
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 ... Continue to full case
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 ... Continue to full case
St. Vincent & the Grenadines vs Unicomer (St. Vincent) Ltd., April 2021, Supreme Court, Case No SVGHCV2019/0001

St. Vincent & the Grenadines vs Unicomer (St. Vincent) Ltd., April 2021, Supreme Court, Case No SVGHCV2019/0001

Unicomer (St. Vincent) Ltd. is engaged in the business of selling household furniture and appliances. In FY 2013 and 2014 Unicomer entered into an “insurance arrangement” involving an unrelated party, United insurance, and a related party, Canterbury. According to the tax authorities United Insurance had been used as an intermediate/conduit to funnel money from the Unicomer to Canterbury, thereby avoiding taxes in St. Vincent. In 2017 the Inland Revenue Department issued an assessments of additional tax in the sum of $12,666,798.23 inclusive of interest and penalties. The basis of the assessment centered on Unicomer’s treatment of (1) credit protection premiums (hereinafter referred to as “CPI”) under the insurance arrangement, (2) tax deferral of hire-purchase profits and (3) deductions for royalty payments. Unicomer appealed the assessment to the Appeal Commission where a decision was rendered in 2018. The Appeal Commission held that the CPI payments were rightfully disallowed by the tax authorities and that withholding tax was chargeable on these payments; ... Continue to full case
Spain vs DIGITEX INFORMÁTICA S.L., February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:629

Spain vs DIGITEX INFORMÁTICA S.L., February 2021, National Court, Case No 2021:629

DIGITEX INFORMATICA S.L. had entered into a substantial service contract with an unrelated party in Latin America, Telefonica, according to which the DIGITEX group would provide certain services for Telefonica. The contract originally entered by DIGITEX INFORMATICA S.L. was later transferred to DIGITEX’s Latin American subsidiaries. But after the transfer, cost and amortizations related to the contract were still paid – and deducted for tax purposes – by DIGITEX in Spain. The tax authorities found that costs (amortizations, interest payments etc.) related to the Telefonica contract – after the contract had been transferred to the subsidiaries – should have been reinvoiced to the subsidiaries, and an assessment was issued to DIGITEX for FY 2010 and 2011 where these deductions had been disallowed. DIGITEX on its side argued that by not re-invoicing the costs to the subsidiaries the income received from the subsidiaries increased. According to the intercompany contract, DIGITEX would invoice related entities 1% of the turnover of its own ... Continue to full case
Colombia vs. Taxpayer, November 2020, The Constitutional Court, Sentencia No. C-486/20

Colombia vs. Taxpayer, November 2020, The Constitutional Court, Sentencia No. C-486/20

A Colombian taxpayer had filed an unconstitutionality complaint against Article 70 (partial) of Law 1819 of 2016, “Whereby a structural tax reform is adopted, mechanisms for the fight against tax evasion and avoidance are strengthened, and other provisions are enacted.” The Constitutional Court ruled that the Colombian GAAR legislation was not unconstitutional. Click here for English translation Click here for other translation (1) Corte Constitucional - Sentencia C-480 del 19 de noviembre de 2020 ... Continue to full case
New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, September 2020, Court of appeal, Case No [2020] NZCA 383

New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, September 2020, Court of appeal, Case No [2020] NZCA 383

Frucor Suntory (FHNZ) had deducted purported interest expenses that had arisen in the context of a tax scheme involving, among other steps, its issue of a Convertible Note to Deutsche Bank, New Zealand Branch (DBNZ), and a forward purchase of the shares DBNZ could call for under the Note by FHNZ’s Singapore based parent Danone Asia Pte Ltd (DAP). The Convertible Note had a face value of $204,421,565 and carried interest at a rate of 6.5 per cent per annum. Over its five-year life, FHNZ paid DBNZ approximately $66 million which FHNZ characterised as interest and deducted for income tax purposes. The tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions of interest expenses in the amount of $10,827,606 and $11,665,323 were disallowed in FY 2006 and 2007 under New Zealand´s general anti-avoidance rule in s BG 1 of the Income Tax Act 2004. In addition, penalties of $1,786,555 and $1,924,779 for those years were imposed. The tax authorities found that, although ... Continue to full case
Tanzania vs African Barrick Gold PLC, August 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No. 144 of 2018, [2020] TZCA 1754

Tanzania vs African Barrick Gold PLC, August 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No. 144 of 2018, [2020] TZCA 1754

AFRICAN BARRICK GOLD PLC (now Acacia Mining Plc), the largest mining company operating in Tanzania, was issued a tax bill for unpaid taxes, interest and penalties for alleged under-declared export revenues. As a tax resident in Tanzania, AFRICAN BARRICK GOLD was asked to remit withholding taxes on dividend payments amounting to USD 81,843,127 which the company allegedly made for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 (this sum was subsequently reduced to USD 41,250,426). AFRICAN BARRICK GOLD was also required to remit withholding taxes on payments which the mining entities in Tanzania had paid to the parent, together with payments which was made to other non-resident persons (its shareholders) for the service rendered between 2010 up to September 2013. AFRICAN BARRICK GOLD argued that, being a holding company incorporated in the United Kingdom, it was neither a resident company in Tanzania, nor did it conduct any business in Tanzania to attract the income tax demanded according to the tax assessment ... Continue to full case
UK vs Bluecrest Capital Management, July 2020, First-Tier Tribunal - Tax Chamber, Case No TC07782

UK vs Bluecrest Capital Management, July 2020, First-Tier Tribunal – Tax Chamber, Case No TC07782

In the case of BlueCrest Capital Management Cayman Limited (& others), the key issues involved partnership profit/loss allocations for mixed member partnerships and the associated anti-avoidance legislation – limitation on tax relief for interest on unallowable purpose loans and the sale of occupational income provisions. Judgement The Tribunal found that the sale of occupational income rules could apply to charge Income tax on partnership capital contributions. Although the arrangements  did have a commercial purpose (retention and incentivization of partners), they also had as a main object the avoidance or reduction of liability to pay income tax. The test for application of the occupational income rules was therefore met. UK-vs-Bluecrest-Capital-Management-TC07782-1 ... Continue to full case
Finland vs A Group, April 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2020:35

Finland vs A Group, April 2020, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No. KHO:2020:35

In 2008, the A Group had reorganized its internal financing function so that the Group’s parent company, A Oyj, had established A Finance NV in Belgium. Thereafter, A Oyj had transferred to intra-group long-term loan receivables of approximately EUR 223,500,000 to A Finance NV. In return, A Oyj had received shares in A Finance NV. The intra-group loan receivables transferred in kind had been unsecured and the interest income on the loan receivables had been transferred to A Finance NV on the same day. A Finance NV had entered the receivables in its balance sheet as assets. In addition, A Oyj and A Finance NV had agreed that target limits would be set for the return on investment achieved by A Finance NV through its operations. A Finance NV has reimbursed A Oyj for income that has exceeded the target limit or, alternatively, invoiced A Oyj for income that falls below the target limit. Based on the functional analysis prepared ... Continue to full case
UK vs Smith & Nephew, March 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/0521

UK vs Smith & Nephew, March 2020, Court of Appeal, Case No A3/2019/0521

In the case of HMRC v Smith & Nephew Overseas Ltd, consideration was given to the “fairly represent” requirement in the loan relationship code. The dispute concerns each of the Smith & Nephew’s entitlement to set off foreign exchange losses against their liability to corporation tax. The exchanges loss arose as a result of Smith & Nephews changing their functional accounting currencies from sterling to US dollars on 23 December 2008 at a time when the only asset on their balance sheets was a very substantial inter-company debt owed to them by their parent company. The debts were denominated in sterling but then had to be converted into dollars when the companies’ accounts were restated in dollars. The next day, the debts were disposed of as part of a group restructuring. The exchange losses arose from Smith & Nephew’s ‘loan relationships’ as that term is used in Chapter 2 of Part IV of the Finance Act 1996 (‘Chapter 2’). Section ... Continue to full case
Japan vs. Universal Music Corp, June 2019, Tokyo District Court, Case No 平成27(行ウ)468

Japan vs. Universal Music Corp, June 2019, Tokyo District Court, Case No 平成27(行ウ)468

An intercompany loan in the form of a so-called international debt pushdown had been issued to Universal Music Japan to acquire the shares of another Japanese group company. The tax authority found that the loan transaction had been entered for the principal purpose of reducing the tax burden in Japan and issued an assessment where deductions of the interest payments on the loan had been disallowed for tax purposes. Decision of the Court The Tokyo District Court decided in favour of Universal Music Japan and set aside the assessment. The Court held that the loan did not have the principle purpose of reducing taxes because the overall restructuring was conducted for valid business purposes. Therefore, the tax authorities could not invoke the Japanese anti-avoidance provisions to deny the interest deductions. The case is now pending at the Tokyo High Court awaiting a final decision. Click here for English Translation Jap UM 2019 ... Continue to full case
New Zealand vs Cullen Group Limited, March 2019, New Zealand High Court, Case No [2019] NZHC 404

New Zealand vs Cullen Group Limited, March 2019, New Zealand High Court, Case No [2019] NZHC 404

In moving to the United Kingdom, a New Zealand citizen, Mr. Eric Watson, restructured a significant shareholding into debt owed by a New Zealand company, Cullen Group Ltd, to two Cayman Island conduit companies, all of which he still controlled to a high degree. This allowed Cullen Group Ltd to pay an Approved Issuer Levy (AIL) totalling $8 million, rather than Non-Resident Withholding Tax of $59.5 million. The steps in the arrangement were as follows: (a) Mr Watson sold his shares in Cullen Investments Ltd to Cullen Group, at a (rounded) value of $193 million, being $291 million less his previous $98 million shareholder advances. The sale was conditional on Cullen Investments Ltd selling its shares in Medical Holdings Ltd to Mr Watson and on Cullen Investments Ltd selling its shares in Vonelle Holdings Ltd to Maintenance Ltd which was owned by Mr Watson. (b) Cullen Group’s purchase of the Cullen Investments Ltd shares from Mr Watson was funded by a vendor loan from Mr Watson of ... Continue to full case
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 ... Continue to full case
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 ... Continue to full case
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 ... Continue to full case
New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, November 2018, High Court, Case No NZHC 2860

New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, November 2018, High Court, Case No NZHC 2860

This case concerns application of the general anti-avoidance rule in s BG 1 of the Income Tax Act 2004. The tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions of $10,827,606 and $11,665,323 were disallowed in the 2006 and 2007 income tax years respectively. In addition, penalties of $1,786,555 and $1,924,779 for those years were imposed. The claimed deductions arose in the context of an arrangement entered into by Frucor Holdings Ltd (FHNZ) involving, among other steps, its issue of a Convertible Note to Deutsche Bank, New Zealand Branch (DBNZ) and a forward purchase of the shares DBNZ could call for under the Note by FHNZ’s Singapore based parent Danone Asia Pte Ltd (DAP). The Note had a face value of $204,421,5654 and carried interest at a rate of 6.5 per cent per annum. Over its five-year life, FHNZ paid DBNZ approximately $66 million which FHNZ characterised as interest and deducted for income tax purposes. The tax authorities said that, although such ... Continue to full case
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 ... Continue to full case
Canada vs Loblaw Companies Ltd., September 2018, Canadian tax court, Case No 2018 TCC 182

Canada vs Loblaw Companies Ltd., September 2018, Canadian tax court, Case No 2018 TCC 182

The Canada Revenue Agency had issued a reassessments related to Loblaw’s Barbadian banking subsidiary, Glenhuron, for tax years 2001 – 2010. The tax authorities had determined that Glenhuron did not meet the requirements to be considered a foreign bank under Canadian law, and therefore was not exempt from paying Canadian taxes. “Loblaw took steps to make Glenhuron look like a bank in order to avoid paying tax. Government lawyers said Glenhuron did not qualify because, among other things, it largely invested the grocery giant’s own funds and was “playing with its own money.“ Tax Court found the transactions entered into by Loblaw regarding Glenhuron did result in a tax benefit but “were entered primarily for purposes other than to obtain the tax benefit and consequently were not avoidance transactions.” The Tax Court concludes as follows: “I do not see any extending the scope of paragraph 95(2)(l) of the Act. No, had there been any avoidance transactions the Appellant would not ... Continue to full case
Tax avoidance in Australia

Tax avoidance in Australia

In May 2018 the final report on corporate tax avoidance in Australia was published by the Australian Senate. The report contains the findings, conclusions and recommendations based on 4 years of hearings and investigations into tax avoidance practices by multinationals in Australia. Australian-final-report-on-tax-avoidance ... Continue to full case
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