Advanced

Ränteavdragsbegränsningar - reglernas bakgrund, tillämpning och framtid

Sebghati Sparrfelt, Arian LU (2011) JURM01 20111
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Den 1 januari 2009 trädde en ny lag ikraft som begränsar avdragsrätten för ränta i vissa fall. Lagen kom som en reaktion på ett av Skatteverket uppmärksammat skatteupplägg som beräknades minska den svenska skattebasen med miljardbelopp.

Skatteverket tog initiativet till lagstiftningen då man ansåg det nödvändigt att förhindra skatteplanering inom koncerner där ränteavdrag utnyttjas för att överföra obeskattade vinstmedel från Sverige till andra länder, något som enligt Skatteverkets analys förkom i sådan omfattning att den svenska skattebasen allvarligt äventyrades. Skatteverket presenterade ett antal exempel på möjliga skatteupplägg som kom att benämnas som en räntesnurra. Ärendet bereddes i Finansdepartementet innan regeringen... (More)
Den 1 januari 2009 trädde en ny lag ikraft som begränsar avdragsrätten för ränta i vissa fall. Lagen kom som en reaktion på ett av Skatteverket uppmärksammat skatteupplägg som beräknades minska den svenska skattebasen med miljardbelopp.

Skatteverket tog initiativet till lagstiftningen då man ansåg det nödvändigt att förhindra skatteplanering inom koncerner där ränteavdrag utnyttjas för att överföra obeskattade vinstmedel från Sverige till andra länder, något som enligt Skatteverkets analys förkom i sådan omfattning att den svenska skattebasen allvarligt äventyrades. Skatteverket presenterade ett antal exempel på möjliga skatteupplägg som kom att benämnas som en räntesnurra. Ärendet bereddes i Finansdepartementet innan regeringen presenterade en proposition. Lagförslaget i propositionen kom endast att innefatta koncerninterna förvärv av delägarrätter i samband med koncerninterna lån trots att Skatteverket gett exempel på flera möjliga situationer där skatteplanering med ränteavdrag kan utnyttjas i skatteflyktssyfte. Regeringen ansåg dock att endast det fallet som i stor grad påvisats förekomma i företagssektorn skulle förhindras genom lagstiftningen då man ville minimera riskerna för att rent affärsmässiga transaktioner skulle påverkas.

Lagstiftningen är belägen i 24 kap. 10 a-e §§ IL. Enligt reglerna är ränteutgifter avseende en skuld till ett företag i samma intressegemenskap inte avdragsgill om skulden är hänförlig till ett förvärv av delägarrätter i ett företag i samma intressegemenskap. Såväl tillfälliga externa lån som back-to-back-lån omfattas av reglerna. Reglerna innehåller även två undantag. Avdrag för ränteutgifterna får göras om antingen ränteinkomsten skulle beskattas med minst tio procent hos mottagaren enligt ett hypotetiskt test (tioprocentsregeln) eller om såväl skulden som förvärvet är huvudsakligen affärsmässigt motiverade (ventilen). Tillämpningen av dessa två undantag är omstridd då reglerna ännu inte varit föremål för Högsta förvaltningsdomstolens bedömning. Oklarheten kring tioprocentsregeln ligger främst i huruvida olika avdrag som räntemottagaren kan företa för att kvitta ränteinkomsten ska beaktas vid det hypotetiska testet. Gällande tillämpningen av ventilen är det omstritt vilka komponenter som ska beaktas vid bedömningen av om såväl skulden som förvärvet är huvudsakligen affärsmässigt motiverade. Skatteverkets ståndpunkt är att det inte endast är förvärvarens/gäldenärens förhållande som ska beaktas utan även långivarens funktion ska bedömas vara affärsmässigt motiverad för att avdrag ska medges. Även meddelade förhandsbesked från Skatterättsnämnden talar för en sådan tolkning av regeln.

Lagstiftning som påverkar gränsöverskridande transaktioner riskerar att strida mot EU- rätten som utgör en del av den nationella rätten. Att vägra avdrag för ränteutgifter inom unionen kan utgöra en förbjuden inskränkning i etableringsfriheten inom unionen genom att lagstiftningen negativt särbehandlar gränsöverskridande förhållanden jämfört med motsvarande rent inhemska förhållanden. Såväl direkt som indirekt diskriminerande lagstiftning kan vara förbjuden enligt EU- domstolens praxis. Ränteavdragsbegränsningsreglerna omfattar även rent svenska förhållanden men i praktiken slår de endast mot gränsöverskridande förhållanden vilket troligen medför att indirekt diskriminering föreligger. Möjligen kan lagstiftningen rättfärdigas genom dess syfte att förhindra skatteflykt. Det är dock osäkert om lagstiftningen är ändamålsenlig och proportionell i förhållande till dess syfte.

Avdragsbegränsningen riskerar även att stå i strid mot ränte- och royaltydirektivet. Direktivet har ännu inte tolkats av EU- domstolen och det råder därför osäkerhet om direktivet även omfattar ett förbud mot att vägra avdrag för räntebetalningar inom unionen. En pågående process i EU- domstolen ska besvara just denna fråga. Generaladvokaten har presenterat sitt förslag till avgörande där han inte ansåg att direktivet även omfattar ett förbud mot att vägra avdrag.

På uppdrag från regeringen har Skatteverket efter lagens ikraftträdande gjort en bredare kartläggning och analys av förekomsten av ränteavdrag i företagssektorn. Utredningen visade att det fortfarande finns ett stort incitament för företag att av skatteskäl etablera koncerninterna skuldförhållanden med ränteavdrag i Sverige. En av anledningarna till detta beror enligt verket på skillnaden i behandlingen mellan lånat och eget kapital då finansiering med lånat kapital är skattemässigt gynnat genom möjligheten att dra av räntekostnaderna. Enligt Skatteverket är dagens lagstiftning dessutom otillräcklig och man förespråkar därför en förändring i lagstiftningen. Regeringen har efter Skatteverkets utredning tillsatt en kommitté med uppdrag att analysera och lämna förslag på möjliga lagförändringar som kan förhindra incitamentet att skatteplanera med hjälp av ränteavdrag. Såväl förbudslagstiftning som incitamentslagstiftning ska analyseras. (Less)
Abstract
January 1, 2009 a new legislation entered into force which limits the deductibility of interest in some cases. The law came in response to an observed tax evasion structure which expected to decrease the Swedish tax base by billions.

The Swedish Tax Agency initiated the legislation since they deemed it necessary to prevent tax avoidance within company groups where interest deductibility was used to transfer untaxed profits abroad, which according to the agency’s analysis occurred to such an extent that the Swedish taxable base were seriously affected. The Tax Agency presented a number of possible tax schemes which came to be known as an interest spin. The legislation was prepared at the Ministry of Finance before the government... (More)
January 1, 2009 a new legislation entered into force which limits the deductibility of interest in some cases. The law came in response to an observed tax evasion structure which expected to decrease the Swedish tax base by billions.

The Swedish Tax Agency initiated the legislation since they deemed it necessary to prevent tax avoidance within company groups where interest deductibility was used to transfer untaxed profits abroad, which according to the agency’s analysis occurred to such an extent that the Swedish taxable base were seriously affected. The Tax Agency presented a number of possible tax schemes which came to be known as an interest spin. The legislation was prepared at the Ministry of Finance before the government presented a final proposition. The proposition only came to include inter-company acquisition in connection with inter-company loans despite that the Tax Agency presented examples of several situations where the interest deductibility could be used in tax avoidance purposes. The government, however, only considered the one case that hade been shown to occur in the corporate sector in order to minimize the risk to affect purely commercial transactions.

The legislation is located in Chapter 24, 10 a-e §§ in the Swedish Income Tax Act. According to the rules interest payments on a debt to a company in the same group is not deductible if the debt is attributable to an acquisition from a company in the same group. Both temporary external loans and back-to-back loans are covered by the rules. The rules also contains two exceptions. Deduction of interest payments may be made if either the interest income would be taxed with at least ten percent accordning to a hypothetical test (the ten percent rule) or if the debt as well as the acquisition is mainly commercially motivated (the ventilator). The application of these two exceptions are disputed since the legislation has not been subject to the Supreme Administrative Court’s interpretation. The lack of clarity regarding the ten percent rule primarily lies in whether or not to consider other deduction opportunities for the interest receiving company which can offset the interest income. Regarding the application of the ventilator, it is controversial which components to be considered when determining if the transactions are mainly commercially motivated. The Tax Agency’s position is that it not only is the aqcuirer’s / debtor’s function that shall be considered but also the lender's function should be assessed to be commercially motivated for the interest to be deductible. Also announced rulings from a lower court suggests such an interpretation of the rule.

Since the legislation affects cross-border transactions it might be incompatible with the EU law. To deny deduction of interest payments within the Union may constitute a prohibited restriction on freedom of establishment if the legislation is discriminating cross-border transactions compared to purely domestic transactions. Both direct and indirect discrimination may be prohibited according to settled case law by the European Court of Justice. The interest deduction limitation rules also include purely Swedish circumstances but in practice they only hit against cross-border transactions, which may results in an indirect discrimination. Possibly, the legislation can be justified by its aim to prevent tax evasion. However, it is uncertain whether legislation is appropriate and proportionate to its purpose.

The legislation also risk being in violation of the Interest and Royalty Directive. The Directive has not yet been interpreted by the European Court of Justice and it is therefore uncertain whether the directive also includes a prohibition against denial of a deduction for interest payments within the Union. There is an ongoing process in the European Court to resolve this issue. The Advocate General has submitted his opinion in which he did not consider that the Directive includes a prohibition against denial of deduction for interest payments.

On behalf the Government the Tax Agency have made a wider survey and analysis of the frequency of interest deductions in the corporate sector. The study showed that there is still a big incentive for companies to establish inter-company debts with interest deductions in Sweden. One reason for this is the difference in treatment between borrowed captial and venture capital since financing with borrowed capital is tax-favored becasuse of the deductibility of interest expenses. According to the Agency the current legislation is inadequate and they therefore advocates a change of the legislation. The Government has therefore appointed a committee to analyze and provide suggestions for possible legislative changes that may prevent the incentive to tax planning strategies using interest deductions. Both laws prohibiting interest deductions and laws that increase the incentives to finance investments with venture capital will be analyzed. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Sebghati Sparrfelt, Arian LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Interest deduction limitations - the background, application and future of the rules
course
JURM01 20111
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
language
Swedish
id
1975742
date added to LUP
2011-06-17 13:31:30
date last changed
2011-06-17 13:31:30
@misc{1975742,
  abstract     = {January 1, 2009 a new legislation entered into force which limits the deductibility of interest in some cases. The law came in response to an observed tax evasion structure which expected to decrease the Swedish tax base by billions.

The Swedish Tax Agency initiated the legislation since they deemed it necessary to prevent tax avoidance within company groups where interest deductibility was used to transfer untaxed profits abroad, which according to the agency’s analysis occurred to such an extent that the Swedish taxable base were seriously affected. The Tax Agency presented a number of possible tax schemes which came to be known as an interest spin. The legislation was prepared at the Ministry of Finance before the government presented a final proposition. The proposition only came to include inter-company acquisition in connection with inter-company loans despite that the Tax Agency presented examples of several situations where the interest deductibility could be used in tax avoidance purposes. The government, however, only considered the one case that hade been shown to occur in the corporate sector in order to minimize the risk to affect purely commercial transactions.

The legislation is located in Chapter 24, 10 a-e §§ in the Swedish Income Tax Act. According to the rules interest payments on a debt to a company in the same group is not deductible if the debt is attributable to an acquisition from a company in the same group. Both temporary external loans and back-to-back loans are covered by the rules. The rules also contains two exceptions. Deduction of interest payments may be made if either the interest income would be taxed with at least ten percent accordning to a hypothetical test (the ten percent rule) or if the debt as well as the acquisition is mainly commercially motivated (the ventilator). The application of these two exceptions are disputed since the legislation has not been subject to the Supreme Administrative Court’s interpretation. The lack of clarity regarding the ten percent rule primarily lies in whether or not to consider other deduction opportunities for the interest receiving company which can offset the interest income. Regarding the application of the ventilator, it is controversial which components to be considered when determining if the transactions are mainly commercially motivated. The Tax Agency’s position is that it not only is the aqcuirer’s / debtor’s function that shall be considered but also the lender's function should be assessed to be commercially motivated for the interest to be deductible. Also announced rulings from a lower court suggests such an interpretation of the rule.

Since the legislation affects cross-border transactions it might be incompatible with the EU law. To deny deduction of interest payments within the Union may constitute a prohibited restriction on freedom of establishment if the legislation is discriminating cross-border transactions compared to purely domestic transactions. Both direct and indirect discrimination may be prohibited according to settled case law by the European Court of Justice. The interest deduction limitation rules also include purely Swedish circumstances but in practice they only hit against cross-border transactions, which may results in an indirect discrimination. Possibly, the legislation can be justified by its aim to prevent tax evasion. However, it is uncertain whether legislation is appropriate and proportionate to its purpose.

The legislation also risk being in violation of the Interest and Royalty Directive. The Directive has not yet been interpreted by the European Court of Justice and it is therefore uncertain whether the directive also includes a prohibition against denial of a deduction for interest payments within the Union. There is an ongoing process in the European Court to resolve this issue. The Advocate General has submitted his opinion in which he did not consider that the Directive includes a prohibition against denial of deduction for interest payments.

On behalf the Government the Tax Agency have made a wider survey and analysis of the frequency of interest deductions in the corporate sector. The study showed that there is still a big incentive for companies to establish inter-company debts with interest deductions in Sweden. One reason for this is the difference in treatment between borrowed captial and venture capital since financing with borrowed capital is tax-favored becasuse of the deductibility of interest expenses. According to the Agency the current legislation is inadequate and they therefore advocates a change of the legislation. The Government has therefore appointed a committee to analyze and provide suggestions for possible legislative changes that may prevent the incentive to tax planning strategies using interest deductions. Both laws prohibiting interest deductions and laws that increase the incentives to finance investments with venture capital will be analyzed.},
  author       = {Sebghati Sparrfelt, Arian},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Ränteavdragsbegränsningar - reglernas bakgrund, tillämpning och framtid},
  year         = {2011},
}