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Att hindra skatteflykt - en analys av en rättfärdigandegrund

Corchis, Beatrice LU (2011) JURM01 20111
Department of Law
Abstract
If a Member State in the European Union design an income tax law rule in such a way so that the current income tax law rule leads to a negative difference of treatment in cross-border fiscal situations compared with corresponding purely domestic situations, there is a tax obstacle that hinders the free movement established in the TFEU. Income tax avoidance rules that specifically target cross-border situations or transactions could therefore be in conflict with the TFEU and are found to be in breach with Community law. In the present thesis gives several examples of income tax rules (including thin capitalization rules, the CFC rules, loss relief rules and correction rules) that Member States put forward before the European Court of... (More)
If a Member State in the European Union design an income tax law rule in such a way so that the current income tax law rule leads to a negative difference of treatment in cross-border fiscal situations compared with corresponding purely domestic situations, there is a tax obstacle that hinders the free movement established in the TFEU. Income tax avoidance rules that specifically target cross-border situations or transactions could therefore be in conflict with the TFEU and are found to be in breach with Community law. In the present thesis gives several examples of income tax rules (including thin capitalization rules, the CFC rules, loss relief rules and correction rules) that Member States put forward before the European Court of Justice and which are found to be both in conformity with Community law and not. The interesting part of the thesis has been to look at the desire to prevent tax avoidance, such as claim of justification, applied on both the above income tax law rules but also in general.

To determine whether a national income tax rule in violation with a fundamental freedom in the TFEU can be justified, there is rule of reason-principle as support. The principle requires that the income tax rule in question must be in accordance with four basic elements to be acceptable; income tax rule must be justified by an overriding public interest, not discriminate, be designed to achieve a desired goal and also be proportionate.

Traditionally, in determining whether an income tax rule can be justified, the European Court of Justice treated the different potential justifications one by one. The European Court of Justices previous case law is therefore characterized to be rather restrictive. By earlier case law it can be inferred that an income tax rule, to be justified such as separate ground with reference to the prevention of tax avoidance, must have the specific purpose to access the wholly artificial arrangements. Otherwise the rule is considered contrary to the fundamental freedoms in the TFEU. Of prevailing position, it therefore seems, that to justify preventing tax avoidance applied as a separate ground can justify an identified tax obstacles if the conditions above are met.

In recent times, i.e. from the decision in Marks & Spencer, however the European Court of Justice has changed its assessment line and a trend change in its practice seems to have begun. Subsequent developments show that it is more common that European Court of Justice makes an overall assessment of several justification grounds, despite that the earlier requirement for artificial arrangements are not met. The consequence that several justification grounds considered together, may justify a national income tax rule, means however that the sentence may be more difficult to interpret since it becomes difficult to transfer and apply this reasoning to situations other than the question of sentence.

The conclusion reached, supported by both the case law from the European Court of Justice and from European legal doctrine, is that developments in the legal field seems to be going in two directions. This means that Member States have even greater opportunities to adjust their income tax rules in an appropriate manner, in order to counter tax avoidance. At the same time the lack of legal certainty means that there is some legal uncertainty, where predictability can be considered to be deficient in some way. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Om en EU-medlemsstat utformar en inkomstskatterättslig regel på ett sådant sätt så att den aktuella inkomstskatterättsliga regeln negativt särbehandlar en gränsöverskridande skatterättslig situation i jämförelse med motsvarande rent inhemska förhållanden, föreligger ett skattehinder för den fria rörligheten stadgad i EUF-fördraget. Inkomstskatteflyktsregler som specifikt riktar sig mot gränsöverskridande förhållanden eller transaktioner riskerar därmed att komma i konflikt med EUF-fördraget och befinns således vara ogiltiga enligt EU-rätten. I förevarande uppsats ges flera exempel på inkomstskatteregler (bl.a. underkapitaliseringsregler, CFC-regler, förlustutjämningsregler samt korrigeringsregler) som medlemsstaterna åberopat inför... (More)
Om en EU-medlemsstat utformar en inkomstskatterättslig regel på ett sådant sätt så att den aktuella inkomstskatterättsliga regeln negativt särbehandlar en gränsöverskridande skatterättslig situation i jämförelse med motsvarande rent inhemska förhållanden, föreligger ett skattehinder för den fria rörligheten stadgad i EUF-fördraget. Inkomstskatteflyktsregler som specifikt riktar sig mot gränsöverskridande förhållanden eller transaktioner riskerar därmed att komma i konflikt med EUF-fördraget och befinns således vara ogiltiga enligt EU-rätten. I förevarande uppsats ges flera exempel på inkomstskatteregler (bl.a. underkapitaliseringsregler, CFC-regler, förlustutjämningsregler samt korrigeringsregler) som medlemsstaterna åberopat inför EU-domstolen och som bedömts vara både EU-stridiga respektive EU-konforma. Det intressanta för uppsatsens del har varit att titta på önskemålet att förhindra skatteflykt såsom åberopad rättfärdigandegrund applicerat på ovan angivna inkomstskatterättsliga regler men även generellt sätt.

För att avgöra om en nationell inkomstskatteregel i strid med de grundläggande friheterna går att rättfärdiga finns rule of reason-principen till stöd. Principen förutsätter att inkomstskatteregeln i fråga skall uppfylla fyra grundläggande rekvisit för att kunna godtas; inkomstskatteregeln skall vara motiverad med hänsyn till ett trängande allmänintresse, inte vara diskriminerande, vara ämnad att uppnå en eftersträvad målsättning och dessutom vara proportionerlig.

Traditionellt sett har EU-domstolen vid bedömningen av om en inkomstskatteregel kan rättfärdigas, behandlat de olika potentiella rättfärdigandegrunderna var för sig. EU-domstolens tidigare praxis kännetecknas således av att vara tämligen restriktiv. Av tidigare praxis kan utläsas att en inkomstskatteregel, för att kunna rättfärdigas såsom separat grund med hänvisning till att förhindra skatteflykt, måste ha som specifikt syfte att komma åt rent konstlade upplägg. I annat fall anses regeln strida mot de grundläggande friheterna i EUF-fördraget. Av rådande rättsläge verkar det således som att rättfärdigandegrunden förhindra skatteflykt, tillämpad såsom separat grund kan rättfärdiga ett konstaterat skattehinder om förutsättningarna enligt ovan uppfylls.

Under den senaste tiden, d.v.s. från och med avgörandet i Marks & Spencer, har dock EU-domstolen ändrat sin bedömningslinje och en trendförändring avseende dess praxis verkar ha inletts. Utvecklingen därefter visar att det är allt vanligare att EU-domstolen gör en samlad bedömning av flera rättfärdigandegrunder, trots att kravet på konstlat upplägg inte uppfylls. Konsekvensen av att flera rättfärdigandegrunder betraktade tillsammans kan rättfärdiga en nationell inkomstskatteregel innebär dock att domen kan bli mer svårtolkad, då det blir svårt att överföra samt tillämpa resonemanget på andra situationer än den aktuella i domen.

Slutsatsen som nås, med stöd i både praxis från EU-domstolen samt EU-rättslig doktrin, är att utvecklingen på rättsområdet verkar gå på två håll. Detta medför att medlemsstaterna får än större möjligheter att anpassa sina inkomstskatteregler på ett lämpligt sätt för att kunna motverka skatteflykt. Samtidigt innebär det något oklara rättsläget dock att det råder en viss rättsosäkerhet, där förutsägbarheten kan anses vara bristfällig i viss mån. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Corchis, Beatrice LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Preventing Tax Avoidance - an analysis of a justification ground
course
JURM01 20111
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
tax, skatt, rättfärdigandegrund, justification ground, tax law, skatterätt, tax avoidance, skatteflykt, EU-rätt
language
Swedish
id
2221737
date added to LUP
2011-12-02 09:25:10
date last changed
2011-12-05 11:52:58
@misc{2221737,
  abstract     = {If a Member State in the European Union design an income tax law rule in such a way so that the current income tax law rule leads to a negative difference of treatment in cross-border fiscal situations compared with corresponding purely domestic situations, there is a tax obstacle that hinders the free movement established in the TFEU. Income tax avoidance rules that specifically target cross-border situations or transactions could therefore be in conflict with the TFEU and are found to be in breach with Community law. In the present thesis gives several examples of income tax rules (including thin capitalization rules, the CFC rules, loss relief rules and correction rules) that Member States put forward before the European Court of Justice and which are found to be both in conformity with Community law and not. The interesting part of the thesis has been to look at the desire to prevent tax avoidance, such as claim of justification, applied on both the above income tax law rules but also in general.

To determine whether a national income tax rule in violation with a fundamental freedom in the TFEU can be justified, there is rule of reason-principle as support. The principle requires that the income tax rule in question must be in accordance with four basic elements to be acceptable; income tax rule must be justified by an overriding public interest, not discriminate, be designed to achieve a desired goal and also be proportionate. 

Traditionally, in determining whether an income tax rule can be justified, the European Court of Justice treated the different potential justifications one by one. The European Court of Justices previous case law is therefore characterized to be rather restrictive. By earlier case law it can be inferred that an income tax rule, to be justified such as separate ground with reference to the prevention of tax avoidance, must have the specific purpose to access the wholly artificial arrangements. Otherwise the rule is considered contrary to the fundamental freedoms in the TFEU. Of prevailing position, it therefore seems, that to justify preventing tax avoidance applied as a separate ground can justify an identified tax obstacles if the conditions above are met.

In recent times, i.e. from the decision in Marks & Spencer, however the European Court of Justice has changed its assessment line and a trend change in its practice seems to have begun. Subsequent developments show that it is more common that European Court of Justice makes an overall assessment of several justification grounds, despite that the earlier requirement for artificial arrangements are not met. The consequence that several justification grounds considered together, may justify a national income tax rule, means however that the sentence may be more difficult to interpret since it becomes difficult to transfer and apply this reasoning to situations other than the question of sentence. 

The conclusion reached, supported by both the case law from the European Court of Justice and from European legal doctrine, is that developments in the legal field seems to be going in two directions. This means that Member States have even greater opportunities to adjust their income tax rules in an appropriate manner, in order to counter tax avoidance. At the same time the lack of legal certainty means that there is some legal uncertainty, where predictability can be considered to be deficient in some way.},
  author       = {Corchis, Beatrice},
  keyword      = {tax,skatt,rättfärdigandegrund,justification ground,tax law,skatterätt,tax avoidance,skatteflykt,EU-rätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Att hindra skatteflykt - en analys av en rättfärdigandegrund},
  year         = {2011},
}