Tag: Withholding tax

Tax on income imposed at source, i.e. a third party is charged with the task of deducting the tax from certain kinds of payments and remitting that amount to the government. Withholding taxes are found in practically all tax systems and are widely used in respect of dividends, interest, royalties and similar tax payments. The rates of withholding tax are frequently reduced by tax treaties.

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
Switzerland vs "A SA", July 2021, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_80/2021

Switzerland vs “A SA”, July 2021, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_80/2021

In this case, the Swiss tax authorities had refused to refund A SA withholding tax on an amount of the so-called distributable reserves. The refund was denied based on the Swiss “Old Reserves-doctrin”. “…the doctrine relates the existence of the practice of the Federal Tax Administration of 15 November 1990, known as the “purchase of a full wallet” (“Kauf eines vollen Portemonnaies” or the “old reserves” practice… According to this practice, “tax avoidance is deemed to have occurred when a holding company based in Switzerland buys all the shares of a company based in Switzerland with substantial reserves from persons domiciled (or having their seat) abroad at a price higher than their nominal value, …” The doctrin is applied by the tax authorities based on a schematic asset/liability test: if there are distributable reserves/retained earnings prior to the transfer of shares from a jurisdiction with a higher residual withholding tax to a jurisdiction with a lower one, the previous higher ... Read more

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

Lux PPL SARL received a profit participating loan (PPL) from a related company in Jersey to finance its participation in an Irish company.  The participation in the Irish company was set up in the form of debt (85%) and equity (15%). The profit participating loan (PPL) carried a fixed interest of 25bps and a variable interest corresponding to 99% of the profits derived from the participation in the Irish company, net of any expenses, losses and a profit margin. After entering the arrangement, Lux PPL SARL filed a request for an binding ruling with the Luxembourg tax administration to verify that the interest  charge under the PPL would not qualify as a hidden profit distribution subject to the 15% dividend withholding tax. The tax administration issued the requested binding ruling on the condition that the ruling would be terminate if the total amount of the interest charge on the PPL exceeded an arm’s length charge. Later, Lux PPL SARL received ... Read more
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
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
Philippines vs Snowy Owl Energy Inc, March 2021, Tax Court, CTA CASE No. 9618

Philippines vs Snowy Owl Energy Inc, March 2021, Tax Court, CTA CASE No. 9618

In 2013, Snowy Owl Energy Inc entered into a Consultancy Agreement (Subconsultant Services Agreement) with Rolenergy Inc. – a Hong Kong-based corporation organized and registered in the British Virgin Islands. Based on the Agreement, Rolenergy would serve as Snowy Owl Energy Inc’s sub-consultant. The tax authorities issued an assessment for deficiency income tax (IT), final withholding tax (FWT) and compromise penalty in relation to the sub-consultant fees it paid for taxable year 2013. Judgement of the Tax Court The Court decided in favour of Snowy Owl Energy Inc. Section 23(F)36 in relation to Section 42(C)(3)37 of the NIRC of 1997, as amended, provides that a non-resident foreign corporation is taxable only for income from sources within the Philippines, and does not include income for services performed outside the Philippines. Excerpts: “Indubitably, the payments made in exchange for the services rendered in Hong Kong are income derived from sources outside of the Philippines, thus not subject to IT and consequently to ... Read more
India vs Engineering Analysis Centre of Excellence Private Limited, March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 8733-8734 OF 2018

India vs Engineering Analysis Centre of Excellence Private Limited, March 2021, Supreme Court, Case No 8733-8734 OF 2018

At issue in the case of India vs. Engineering Analysis Centre of Excellence Private Limited, was whether payments for purchase of computer software to foreign suppliers or manufacturers could be characterised as royalty payments. The Supreme Court held that such payments could not be considered payments for use of the underlying copyrights/intangibles. Hence, no withholding tax would apply to these payments for the years prior to the 2012. Furthermore, the 2012 amendment to the royalty definition in the Indian tax law could not be applied retroactively, and even after 2012, the definition of royalty in Double Tax Treaties would still override the definition in Indian tax law. Excerpt from the conclusion of the Supreme Court “Given the definition of royalties contained in Article 12 of the DTAAs mentioned in paragraph 41 of this judgment , it is clear that there is no obligation on the persons mentioned in section 195 of the Income Tax Act to deduct tax at source, ... Read more
Netherlands vs "Share Owner/Lender", February 2021, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/01884

Netherlands vs “Share Owner/Lender”, February 2021, Supreme Court (Preliminary ruling by the Advocate General), Case No 20/01884

The interested party bought AEX-listed shares, sold three-month futures based on those shares through its shareholder/broker [D], and lent the shares to [D] (stock lending). It received cash collateral ($ deposits as collateral) and a stock lending fee for its lending. According to the interested party, the shares always briefly reverted to its ownership around their dividend dates through registration in the interested party’s securities account with the French custodian bank on the basis of legal transactions between its shareholder [D] and it, represented by [D]. In dispute is the question whether the interested party is entitled to a set-off of € 39,249,246 in Dutch dividend tax withheld from the dividends on the shares lent by her. Did she receive the dividends (was she the beneficial owner?) and if so, was she also the ultimate beneficiary of the dividend? Also in dispute is whether the Inspector rightly imposed an information decision and thus a reversal and increase of the burden ... Read more
Switzerland vs "Contractual Seller SA", January 2021, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_498/2020

Switzerland vs “Contractual Seller SA”, January 2021, Federal Supreme Court, Case No 2C_498/2020

C. SA provides “services, in particular in the areas of communication, management, accounting, management and budget control, sales development monitoring and employee training for the group to which it belongs, active in particular in the field of “F”. C. SA is part of an international group of companies, G. group, whose ultimate owner is A. The G group includes H. Ltd, based in the British Virgin Islands, I. Ltd, based in Guernsey and J. Ltd, also based in Guernsey. In 2005, K. was a director of C. SA. On December 21 and December 31, 2004, an exclusive agreement for distribution of “F” was entered into between L. Ltd, on the one hand, and C. SA , H. Ltd and J. Ltd, on the other hand. Under the terms of this distribution agreement, L. Ltd. undertook to supply “F” to the three companies as of January 1, 2005 and for a period of at least ten years, in return for payment ... Read more
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 ... Read more
Italy vs Stiga s.p.a., formerly Global Garden Products Italy s.p.a., July 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 14756.2020

Italy vs Stiga s.p.a., formerly Global Garden Products Italy s.p.a., July 2020, Supreme Court, Case No 14756.2020

The Italian Tax Authorities held that the withholding tax exemption under the European Interest and Royalty Directive did not apply to interest paid by Stiga s.p.a. to it’s parent company in Luxembourg. The interest was paid on a loan established in connection with a merger leverage buy out transaction. According to the Tax Authorities the parent company in Luxembourg was a mere conduit and could not be considered as the beneficial owner of the Italian income since the interest payments was passed on to another group entity. The Court rejected the arguments of the Italian Tax Authorities and recognized the parent company in Luxembourg as the beneficial owner of the interest income. In the decision, reference was made to the Danish Beneficial Owner Cases from the EU Court of Justice to clarify the conditions for application of the withholding tax exemption under the EU Interest and Royalty Directive and for determination of beneficial owner status. The Court also found that no ... Read more
France vs. Piaggio, July 2020, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No. 19VE03376-19VE03377

France vs. Piaggio, July 2020, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case No. 19VE03376-19VE03377

Following a restructuring of the Italien Piaggio group, SAS Piaggio France by a contract dated January 2 2007, was changed from an exclusive distributor of vehicles of the “Piaggio” brand in France to a commercial agent for its Italian parent company. The tax authorities held that this change resulted in a transfer without payment for the customers and applied the provisions of article 57 of the general tax code (the arm’s length principle). A tax assessment was issued whereby the taxable income of SAS Piaggio France was added a profit of 7.969.529 euros on the grounds that the change in the contractual relations between the parties had resultet in a transfer of customers for which an independent party would have been paid. In a judgement of October 2019, Conseil dÉtat, helt in favor of the tax authorities and added an additional profit of 7.969.529 to the taxable income of Piaggio France for the transfer of customers to the Italian parent ... Read more
Switzerland vs "Contractual Seller SA", May 2020, Federal Administrative Court, Case No A-2286/2017

Switzerland vs “Contractual Seller SA”, May 2020, Federal Administrative Court, Case No A-2286/2017

C. SA provides “services, in particular in the areas of communication, management, accounting, management and budget control, sales development monitoring and employee training for the group to which it belongs, active in particular in the field of “F”. C. SA is part of an international group of companies, G. group, whose ultimate owner is A. The G group includes H. Ltd, based in the British Virgin Islands, I. Ltd, based in Guernsey and J. Ltd, also based in Guernsey. In 2005, K. was a director of C. SA. On December 21 and December 31, 2004, an exclusive agreement for distribution of “F” was entered into between L. Ltd, on the one hand, and C. SA , H. Ltd and J. Ltd, on the other hand. Under the terms of this distribution agreement, L. Ltd. undertook to supply “F” to the three companies as of January 1, 2005 and for a period of at least ten years, in return for payment ... 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
Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.486.HR

Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No SKM2019.486.HR

A Danish subsidiary in the German MAN group was the owner of certain intangible assets. The German parent, acting as an intermediate for the Danish subsidiary, licensed rights in those intangibles to other parties. In 2002-2005, the Danish subsidiary received royalty payments corresponding to the prices agreed between the German parent company and independent parties for use of the intangibles. The group had requested an adjustment of the royalty payments to the Danish subsidiary due to withholding taxes paid on inter-company license fees received by the German Parent. This was rejected by the Danish tax authorities. The Supreme Court found no basis for an adjustment for withholding taxes as the agreed prices between the German parent and the Danish Subsidiary matched the market price paid by independent parties. Click here for translation Denmark vs MAN Energy Solutions, September 2019, Supreme Court, Case No BS-4280-2019-HJR ... 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
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 ... 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 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