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Något om förhållandet mellan intern rätt och skatteavtal – särskilt om s.k. normkollision

Simmons, Carl LU (2011) JURM02 20112
Department of Law
Abstract
The objective of this thesis is to provide an overview of the legal position regarding the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law. The main focus is on the situation where the application of the domestic law and a tax treaty leads to irreconcilable results (“conflict of norms” or “norm conflict”). In this respect, the thesis deals with questions regarding the tax treaty’s position within the hierarchy of norms in Sweden and which view that is suitable to adopt when it comes to the conflict of norms. The essay also contains a chapter dealing with how other states apprehend the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law and how a potential norm conflict should be resolved.
The questions are in no way new and have been... (More)
The objective of this thesis is to provide an overview of the legal position regarding the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law. The main focus is on the situation where the application of the domestic law and a tax treaty leads to irreconcilable results (“conflict of norms” or “norm conflict”). In this respect, the thesis deals with questions regarding the tax treaty’s position within the hierarchy of norms in Sweden and which view that is suitable to adopt when it comes to the conflict of norms. The essay also contains a chapter dealing with how other states apprehend the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law and how a potential norm conflict should be resolved.
The questions are in no way new and have been heavily debated in Sweden as well as in other parts of the world during the last few years. The predominant view in Sweden when it came to the interpretation and application of the tax treaties was for many years that the courts had a duty to take the obligations flowing from the international law into consideration. This position most certainly lost a great part of its lustre when the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court in 2008 (cases RÅ 2008 ref. 24 and RÅ 2008 not. 61) gave precedence to CFC legislation over a tax treaty without even consulting the tax treaty. The judgements were heavily criticized and some even meant that the Court had made an error in its rulings. This is most likely why many felt relieved when the Court two years later in the case RÅ 2010 ref. 112 declared that as a main rule the tax treaty should take precedence over domestic law. Nevertheless no one can with certainty say that this means that the sound of the roaring guns have ceased once and for all, since the court did not decide the 2010 judgement in full court and also because the Court introduced a rule of exception from the rule that Swedish tax treaties prevail over domestic law.
Moreover, the thesis provides a detailed explanation of the emerged legal position, including case reports of RÅ 2008 ref. 24 and RÅ 2010 ref. 112, a review of the opinions prominently figuring in the legal literature, and an analysis of the legal situation. When it comes to the tax treaty’s position within the hierarchy of norms in Sweden it is most likely that either the origin or the character of the tax treaty lead to the result that the tax treaty ranks higher within the hierarchy of norms than the domestic law in form of the Swedish Income Tax Act. This position is based on the fact that at the end of the day it is the Swedish parliament that decides in both cases and that treaties have to be incorporated in the domestic legislation under Swedish constitutional law. Treaties as such have no effect. Finally, the dualistic approach adopted by Sweden means that the origin of the tax treaty is irrelevant when it comes to the treaty’s position in the statutory hierarchy.
Furthermore, when it comes the question of a norm conflict the inference is drawn from RÅ 2010 ref. 112 that as a main rule the tax treaty shall take
2
precedence over domestic law, but this rule will be set aside when the Swedish legislator has clearly stated that an income is to be taxed in Sweden or that a new rule of domestic law takes precedence over the tax treaty. This rule of exception and its scope is examined and it is established that the requirement “clearly stated” is without doubt easily fulfilled. It is also pointed out that the two cases (RÅ 2008 ref. 24 and RÅ 2010 ref. 112) are not by far effortlessly reconciled.
Regarding the norm conflict itself I am of the opinion that as a main rule no genuine norm conflict can be said to arise when it comes to tax treaties and domestic law. The norm conflict can instead be said to be apparent. My position on the matter is based on the purpose and construction of the tax treaty. This means that it lies in the nature of the tax treaties to have a limiting effect on domestic tax regimes. If the legislator on the other hand has clearly stated that domestic law will take precedence over a tax treaty it seems that the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court considers that in this case the norm conflict would be genuine and not apparent. The genuine norm conflict would, according to the Court’s reasoning, be solved with the use of the principles of derogation. The question if it is appropriate to solve such a “conflict” with the principles of derogation can be called into question, especially since it is not entirely clear whether the norm conflict in this case can be said to be genuine or apparent.
Since questions regarding the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law are in no way exceptional just for Sweden, the essay contains an international comparative study. The international development is examined by brief studies of a number of selected jurisdictions. The interference reached is that the international development has moved towards that more and more states, although the grounds and modes of procedure differ, are singing the tax treaty praises. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Förevarande examensarbete syftar till att ge en överblick över rättsläget rörande förhållandet mellan intern rätt och skatteavtal med särskilt fokus på den situation då en samtidig tillämpning av skatteavtalet respektive den interna rätten leder till oförenliga följder (”normkollision”). Härvid behandlas bl.a. frågor rörande skatteavtalens rättsliga ställning i svensk rätt och hur man skall se på en eventuell normkollision. Examensarbetet innehåller även ett avsnitt där en redogörelse lämnas avseende hur andra stater ser på förhållandet mellan intern rätt och skatteavtal samt hur dessa stater anser att en eventuell normkollision dem emellan bör lösas.

Frågorna är på intet sätt nya och har under de senaste åren flitigt diskuterats såväl... (More)
Förevarande examensarbete syftar till att ge en överblick över rättsläget rörande förhållandet mellan intern rätt och skatteavtal med särskilt fokus på den situation då en samtidig tillämpning av skatteavtalet respektive den interna rätten leder till oförenliga följder (”normkollision”). Härvid behandlas bl.a. frågor rörande skatteavtalens rättsliga ställning i svensk rätt och hur man skall se på en eventuell normkollision. Examensarbetet innehåller även ett avsnitt där en redogörelse lämnas avseende hur andra stater ser på förhållandet mellan intern rätt och skatteavtal samt hur dessa stater anser att en eventuell normkollision dem emellan bör lösas.

Frågorna är på intet sätt nya och har under de senaste åren flitigt diskuterats såväl i Sverige som i övriga världen. Rådande uppfattning var länge, för svenskt vidkommande, att man vid tolkning och tillämpning av skatteavtal skulle ta hänsyn till de folkrättsliga förpliktelser som följde av skatteavtalet. Denna uppfattning fick sig därför en ordentlig törn när Regeringsrätten (numera Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen) i RÅ 2008 ref. 24 och RÅ 2008 not. 61 gjorde vad som utan större svårighet kunde uppfattas som generella uttalanden med innebörden att det automatiskt uppstod en normkollision i de situationer där ett skatteavtal begränsar Sveriges rätt att beskatta enligt intern rätt, och att denna kollision skulle lösas med hjälp av de allmänna derogationsprinciperna. Avgörandena möttes av ett hav av kritiska röster inom doktrinen och många menade att Regeringsrätten dömt direkt fel. Det var nog därför många som drog en lättnadens suck när Regeringsrätten drygt två år senare i RÅ 2010 ref. 112 uttalade att som huvudregel skall skatteavtalen äga företräde före intern rätt. Det är dock inte helt säkert att Regeringsrättens avgörande innebär att kanonernas dova muller tystnat och att krutröken lagt sig en gång för alla, dels för att avgörandet inte avgjordes i plenum, dels för att Regeringsrätten formulerade ett undantag från huvudregeln.

Examensarbetet innehåller en ingående redogörelse av det uppkomna rättsläget, innefattandes referat av RÅ 2008 ref. 24 respektive RÅ 2010 ref. 112, redovisning av åsikter i doktrinen samt en analys av rättsläget. Det kan härvid konstateras att vad gäller skatteavtalets rättsliga ställning i svensk rätt pekar det mesta i riktningen mot att skatteavtalets annorlunda tillkomsthistoria och karaktär inte leder till att avtalen välsignats med en högre ställning i normhierarkin än den interna rätten i form av inkomstskattelagen. Detta eftersom det är riksdagen som beslutar i båda fallen, att det internationella åtagandet inkorporeras genom lag samt att det dualistiska synsättet slutligen leder till att skatteavtalets folkrättsliga ursprung inte kan utgöra något argument för att skatteavtalet skall tillmätas en annan dignitet på det nationella planet än den rent interna rätten.

Vad gäller eventuell normkollision mellan intern rätt och skatteavtal dras med stöd av uttalanden i RÅ 2010 ref. 112 slutsatsen att som huvudregel gäller att skatteavtalen skall äga företräde för den interna rätten, men att avtalen får stryka på foten om lagstiftaren har givit klart uttryck för att den interna rätten skall äga företräde. Denna undantagsregels räckvidd diskuteras och analyseras och det konstateras härvid att kravet på ”givit klart uttryck” synes vara lågt samt att det är förenat med betydande svårighet att förena de uttalanden som gjordes i RÅ 2010 ref. 112 med de som gjordes i RÅ 2008 ref. 24.

Vad gäller själva normkollisionsfrågan tar jag ställning för att det som huvudregel inte kan sägas uppstå någon verklig normkollision mellan skatteavtal och intern rätt utan att denna endast är skenbar. Ställningstagandet baseras på att det av skatteavtalens syfte och uppbyggnad följer att det ligger i skatteavtalens natur att dessa utgör begränsningar av den interna rätten. Om lagstiftaren har givit klart uttryck för att den interna rätten skall äga företräde verkar det däremot som att Regeringsrätten anser att en verklig normkollision föreligger och att den uppkomna situationen får lösas med hjälp av de allmänna derogationsprinciperna. Frågan huruvida det är lämpligt att lösa en sådan uppkommen ”konflikt” med hjälp av nämnda principer ifrågasätts dock starkt, inte minst med tanke på att det enligt min mening även i denna situation bör röra sig om skenbar normkollision.

Då frågan om hur intern rätt och skatteavtal förhåller sig till varandra inte på något vis är unik för Sverige görs i examensarbetet en internationell jämförelse. Den internationella jämförelsen sker genom studier av ett antal valda rättsordningar. Slutsatsen som nås i den internationella utblicken är att utvecklingen onekligen går mot att allt fler stater sjunger skatteavtalens lov, om än på olika grunder och genom olika tillvägagångssätt. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Simmons, Carl LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The relationship between domestic law and tax treaties – particularly on the subject of conflict of norms
course
JURM02 20112
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Skatterätt, Skatteavtal, Internationell skatterätt, Normkollision, RÅ 2008 ref. 24, RÅ 2010 ref. 112
language
Swedish
id
2219748
date added to LUP
2011-12-02 09:31:53
date last changed
2011-12-02 09:31:53
@misc{2219748,
  abstract     = {The objective of this thesis is to provide an overview of the legal position regarding the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law. The main focus is on the situation where the application of the domestic law and a tax treaty leads to irreconcilable results (“conflict of norms” or “norm conflict”). In this respect, the thesis deals with questions regarding the tax treaty’s position within the hierarchy of norms in Sweden and which view that is suitable to adopt when it comes to the conflict of norms. The essay also contains a chapter dealing with how other states apprehend the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law and how a potential norm conflict should be resolved.
The questions are in no way new and have been heavily debated in Sweden as well as in other parts of the world during the last few years. The predominant view in Sweden when it came to the interpretation and application of the tax treaties was for many years that the courts had a duty to take the obligations flowing from the international law into consideration. This position most certainly lost a great part of its lustre when the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court in 2008 (cases RÅ 2008 ref. 24 and RÅ 2008 not. 61) gave precedence to CFC legislation over a tax treaty without even consulting the tax treaty. The judgements were heavily criticized and some even meant that the Court had made an error in its rulings. This is most likely why many felt relieved when the Court two years later in the case RÅ 2010 ref. 112 declared that as a main rule the tax treaty should take precedence over domestic law. Nevertheless no one can with certainty say that this means that the sound of the roaring guns have ceased once and for all, since the court did not decide the 2010 judgement in full court and also because the Court introduced a rule of exception from the rule that Swedish tax treaties prevail over domestic law.
Moreover, the thesis provides a detailed explanation of the emerged legal position, including case reports of RÅ 2008 ref. 24 and RÅ 2010 ref. 112, a review of the opinions prominently figuring in the legal literature, and an analysis of the legal situation. When it comes to the tax treaty’s position within the hierarchy of norms in Sweden it is most likely that either the origin or the character of the tax treaty lead to the result that the tax treaty ranks higher within the hierarchy of norms than the domestic law in form of the Swedish Income Tax Act. This position is based on the fact that at the end of the day it is the Swedish parliament that decides in both cases and that treaties have to be incorporated in the domestic legislation under Swedish constitutional law. Treaties as such have no effect. Finally, the dualistic approach adopted by Sweden means that the origin of the tax treaty is irrelevant when it comes to the treaty’s position in the statutory hierarchy.
Furthermore, when it comes the question of a norm conflict the inference is drawn from RÅ 2010 ref. 112 that as a main rule the tax treaty shall take
2
precedence over domestic law, but this rule will be set aside when the Swedish legislator has clearly stated that an income is to be taxed in Sweden or that a new rule of domestic law takes precedence over the tax treaty. This rule of exception and its scope is examined and it is established that the requirement “clearly stated” is without doubt easily fulfilled. It is also pointed out that the two cases (RÅ 2008 ref. 24 and RÅ 2010 ref. 112) are not by far effortlessly reconciled.
Regarding the norm conflict itself I am of the opinion that as a main rule no genuine norm conflict can be said to arise when it comes to tax treaties and domestic law. The norm conflict can instead be said to be apparent. My position on the matter is based on the purpose and construction of the tax treaty. This means that it lies in the nature of the tax treaties to have a limiting effect on domestic tax regimes. If the legislator on the other hand has clearly stated that domestic law will take precedence over a tax treaty it seems that the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court considers that in this case the norm conflict would be genuine and not apparent. The genuine norm conflict would, according to the Court’s reasoning, be solved with the use of the principles of derogation. The question if it is appropriate to solve such a “conflict” with the principles of derogation can be called into question, especially since it is not entirely clear whether the norm conflict in this case can be said to be genuine or apparent.
Since questions regarding the relationship between tax treaties and domestic law are in no way exceptional just for Sweden, the essay contains an international comparative study. The international development is examined by brief studies of a number of selected jurisdictions. The interference reached is that the international development has moved towards that more and more states, although the grounds and modes of procedure differ, are singing the tax treaty praises.},
  author       = {Simmons, Carl},
  keyword      = {Skatterätt,Skatteavtal,Internationell skatterätt,Normkollision,RÅ 2008 ref. 24,RÅ 2010 ref. 112},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Något om förhållandet mellan intern rätt och skatteavtal – särskilt om s.k. normkollision},
  year         = {2011},
}