Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

A anti-abuse rule has been proposed by the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council for inclusion in the EU Parent-Subsidiary Directive (PSD), following implementation of hybrid mismatch rules as summarized in my post of 24 June 2014.  The proposal would be required to legislated into law by 31 December 2015, in addition to the earlier hybrid loan rules.

A copy of the communique is attached for reference:

http://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=ST%2016435%202014%20INIT

Key observations:
Annex I contains the following language (highlights added for emphasis) for the proposed anti-abuse rule:

Member States shall not grant the benefits of this Directive to an arrangement or a series of arrangements that, having been put into place for the main purpose or one of the main purposes of obtaining a tax advantage which defeats the object or purpose of this Directive, are not genuine having regard to all relevant facts and circumstances. An arrangement may comprise more than one step or part. 3. For the purposes of paragraph 2, an arrangement or a series of arrangements shall be regarded as not genuine to the extent that they are not put into place for valid commercial reasons which reflect economic reality. 4. This Directive shall not preclude the application of domestic or agreement-based provisions required for the prevention of tax evasion, tax fraud or abuse.”

Annex II provides further reference stating that EU Member States  will endeavor to inform each other, and additionally that an anti-abuse provision will be considered in future work addressing the EU Interest and Royalties Directive 2003/49/EC.

This proposal should be closely followed, as it will directly affect transactions between EU Member States.  Additionally, this initiative will be followed by other countries in drafting domestic and/or treaty anti-abuse/anti-avoidance rules, possibly resulting in a multi-pronged approach of anti-avoidance / anti-abuse rules in Directives, treaties and domestic legislation.

The subjectivity of this rule will increase complexity, reduce clarity and certainty while being subject to further appeals contesting implementation and/or interpretation of the guidelines, including the “main purpose” test.

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