This is a very interesting case and would seem to form precedence for EU Member States and taxpayers in a similar situation, resulting from a request for a preliminary ruling to the EC from the Supreme Administrative Court, Czech Republic and the Kingdom of Spain also submitted written observations.
Are tax authorities able to defer the refund of the total amount of excess VAT even though only a small part is still the subject of an ongoing tax inspection? The tax authorities and the Commission believe so, arguing that the deduction under Article 179 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax (‘the VAT Directive’) is to be made only from the total amount.
This question is particularly sensitive because the part of the claimed deduction still to be investigated might be connected with a third party’s fraudulent transactions, about which the taxable person possibly should have known. According to the Court’s case-law, this would permit (or require) the tax authorities to refuse the deduction in this regard. But does this also mean that the deduction in respect of other indisputably ‘legitimate’ transactions can be deferred for several years? Theoretically, the inspection of a single transaction to the value of one euro could therefore defer the tax assessment for all other transactions for several years.
It can be stated, as an interim conclusion, that Articles 179, 183 and 273 of the VAT Directive do not include a right for the Member States to limit in time the total amount of excess VAT if only part of it is disputed, while the other part is undisputed.
As expected, the European Commission has sent a letter this week to US Treasury commenting that: the Foreign Derived Intangible Income (FDII) deduction violates international trade law. “The design of the FDII deduction is incentivizing tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning by offering a possibility to undercut local tax rates in foreign economies.” The Commission further described the FDII is an “incentive for foreign economies to lower corporate tax rates in a ‘race to the bottom.’” The letter included a statement that the European Commission was “ready to protect the economic interest of the European Union in light of discriminatory rules and practices.”
EY’s Global Tax Alert is provided for added reference.
The European Commission has published a 2018 survey of tax policies.
The “Tax Policies in the EU survey” examines how Member States’ tax systems help to promote investment and employment, how they are working to reduce tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, and how tax systems help to address income inequalities and ensure social fairness.
It substantiates the priorities outlined in the Annual Growth Survey in the area of taxation and presents in a clear and accessible fashion the most recent reforms in Member States and the main indicators used by the European Commission to analyse tax policies in the context of the European Semester . It also presents reform options to improve efficiency and fairness in tax systems.
New elements of this year’s edition include a summary of important business taxation reforms in third countries, an analysis on taxation as an environmental policy instrument, a focus on the implications of new forms of work for labour taxation, an analysis of the influence of the overall tax mix on progressivity, and an overview of recent EU tax initiatives.
Tables starting at page 111 include EU Member State summaries, including sections re: employer social security contributions, corporate / other income taxes, VAT, environmental related taxes, transaction taxes and other taxes. The summaries also refer to the actual bill that was enacted for further reference.
This publication is a valuable summary of tax policies, trends, and tax reforms in 2018.
EY’s referenced Global Tax Alert shares Treasury’s position on pending updates, as well as the European Commission (EC) questionnaire being developed for the FDII incentive of the US Tax Act.
The GILTI provision of the Tax Act is admittedly very complex, even more so by the legislation that it is to be computed on a shareholder legal ownership chain basis, vs. consolidated group basis as the transition tax. This may produce non-intuitive results, and Treasury should provide an update in 4-6 weeks on this point. However, for purposes of calculating the annual effective tax rate for the first quarter, a taxpayer may need to be ready for calculation on a shareholder and group basis for timely preparation and reporting.
As expected, the European Commission is preparing questionnaires to multinationals to gauge the impact of the FDII. This particular provision was envisioned as being a driver of opposing international views and analyses. This provision is important to monitor going forward, as well as not putting reorganization structures in place that cannot be reversed if this provision would be repealed.
Finally, the deemed repatriation transition tax is not expected to change significantly. However, there is not universal certainty about the ability to deduct pro-rata foreign taxes on a November 2 calculation, vs. Dec. 31, for a foreign corporation.
The European Commission has proposed a new Directive calling for additional transparency into cross-border arrangements. Initially, this proposal has the liability for such reporting borne by the advisor, however it may apparently be also transferred to the taxpayer. The effective date would be 1//1/2019 with recurring reporting by the EU Member States on a quarterly basis thereafter.
In a common theme when the “transparency’ envelope is opened, the relevant basket of potential transactions is widened from the most aggressive to ordinary tax-planning transactions. Hopefully, if the Directive is adopted, the Member States will use discretion and ask questions about such transactions prior to drawing intuitive conclusions and assessing taxpayers before having all facts and transactional history for consideration.
The potential transactions include arrangements:
To which a confidentiality clause is attached
Where the fee is fixed by reference to the amount of the tax advantage derived or whether a tax advantage is actually derived
That involve standardized documentation which does not need to be tailored for implementation
Which use losses to reduce tax liability
Which convert income into capital or other categories of revenue which are taxed at a lower level
Which include circular transactions resulting in the round-tripping of funds
Which include deductible cross-border payments which are, for a list of reasons, not fully taxable where received (e.g., recipient is not resident anywhere, zero or low tax rate, full or partial tax exemption, preferential tax regime, hybrid mismatch)
Where the same asset is subject to depreciation in more than one jurisdiction
Where more than one taxpayer can claim relief from double taxation in respect of the same item of income in different jurisdictions
Where there is a transfer of assets with a material difference in the amount treated as payable in consideration for those assets in the jurisdictions involved
Which circumvent EU legislation or arrangements on the automatic exchange of information (e.g., by using jurisdictions outside exchange of information arrangements, or types of income or entities not subject to exchange of information)
Which do not conform to the “arms’ length principle” or to OECD transfer pricing guidelines
Which fall within the scope of the automatic exchange of information on advance cross-border rulings but which are not reported or exchanged
The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament for consideration; this additional layer of transparent information will also be viewed by other countries as potential tools to uncover similar arrangements. Several “arrangements” are also highly subjective, leading to additional transfer pricing disputes and increased double taxation.
EY’s Global Tax Alert provides additional details for this important proposal: