As countries become creative re: permanent establishment (PE) taxation, this scenario presented by the EY Global Tax Alert reminds all tax practitioners to be cognizant of what intercompany provisions are provided.
The Danish Tax Board referred to the contract between the Austrian company and the Danish company, according to which the Danish company would make offices and storage facilities available to the Austrian company. The Danish Tax Board was informed that the premises would be used by the subcontractor only. The Danish Tax Board ruled that according to the wording of the contract between the Austrian company and the Danish company, the Austrian company would have a place of business in Denmark at its disposal regardless of the fact that the services would be outsourced to a subcontractor.
Thus, providing for a storage closet (in literal terms) may impose PE liability, with the ensuing compliance and fees a significant factor for what was probably an inadvertent error by the drafters of the intercompany agreement.
The treaty had the same PE provisions as OECD’s Article 5 language, although noting that the OECD’s recommendations were looked to by the tax administration.
As a Best Practice, all intercompany agreements (anywhere in the world) need to be reviewed by an international tax practitioner prior to execution, whether in-house personnel or outside advisors.
EY’s Alert provides additional details that should be reviewed to indicate the pervasiveness of the new PE rules, and the aggressiveness of tax administrations to literally interpret intercompany agreements.