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Ränteavdragsproblematik vid koncerninterna upplåningar - En analys av styrkor och svagheter avseende gällande rätt och alternativa lösningar

Borgström, Jessica LU (2011) JURM02 20112
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Minskning av resultatet i svenska bolag genom koncerninterna upplåningar är ett relativt enkelt skatteplaneringsförfarande som syftar till att reducera de totala skattekostnaderna i en internationell koncern. Förfarandet går generellt till så att ett svenskt bolag tar upp ett lån från ett annat bolag inom koncernen etablerat i ett lågskatteland. Räntan som löper på lånet dras som en kostnad i det svenska bolaget, medan det mottagande bolaget beskattas lågt för den motsvarande ränteinkomsten, alternativt inte alls. Förfarandet medför en allvarlig brist i reciprocitet i behandling av ränta och leder på sikt till urholkning av den svenska skattebasen. Det faktum att ränteupplägg på ifrågavarande vis endast är möjligt för bolag av viss storlek... (More)
Minskning av resultatet i svenska bolag genom koncerninterna upplåningar är ett relativt enkelt skatteplaneringsförfarande som syftar till att reducera de totala skattekostnaderna i en internationell koncern. Förfarandet går generellt till så att ett svenskt bolag tar upp ett lån från ett annat bolag inom koncernen etablerat i ett lågskatteland. Räntan som löper på lånet dras som en kostnad i det svenska bolaget, medan det mottagande bolaget beskattas lågt för den motsvarande ränteinkomsten, alternativt inte alls. Förfarandet medför en allvarlig brist i reciprocitet i behandling av ränta och leder på sikt till urholkning av den svenska skattebasen. Det faktum att ränteupplägg på ifrågavarande vis endast är möjligt för bolag av viss storlek och i viss företagsform innebär att koncernintern upplåning dessutom medverkar till att det uppstår en brist i neutralitet.

Uppsatsen redogör för gällande svenska avdragsbegränsningsregler, samt två andra möjliga lagstiftningsmetoder; underkapitaliseringsregler och skat-tereduktionsregler. Gemensamt för de tre metoderna är att de alla syftar till att åtgärda den ränteavdragsproblematik som är förknippad med koncernin-terna upplåningar. I analysen identifieras de tre lösningarnas styrkor och svagheter, vilket bl.a. omfattar förenligheten med EU-rätten samt i vilken utsträckning neutralitet och reciprocitet i beskattningen uppnås.

Styrkorna i de olika metoderna skiljer sig relativt mycket från varandra. Konsekvenserna för ett företag som fastnar i de svenska avdragsbegräns-ningsreglerna är stora på så sätt att det resulterar i uteblivet avdrag för rän-tekostnaderna på hela lånet. På så vis kan reglerna verka avskräckande för företag att företa avancerade skatteplaneringsupplägg med koncerninterna lån. Den uppenbara bristen med reglerna är att de endast förhindrar avdrag för räntekostnader på koncerninterna skulder som avser finansiering av för-värv av delägarrätter. Reglernas tillämpningsområde är med andra ord väl-digt begränsat och medger fortfarande skatteplanering genom ränteavdrag på andra typer av koncerninterna lån.

Om Sverige skulle införa underkapitaliseringsregler, dvs. en kvot mellan godtagbart förhållande mellan skuld och eget kapital, hade förutsebarheten i avdragsrätt kunnat öka betydligt, både ur en företagsmässig och ur en fiskal synvinkel. Ur ett internationellt perspektiv skulle sådana regler dessutom innebära att Sverige tar ett steg mot en internationell harmonisering av be-skattningsrätten. Svagheten i sådana regler med traditionella kvotmått är att de fortfarande medger ett relativt stort utrymme för skatteplanering med koncerninterna räntebetalningar eftersom alla kostnader på lån inom kvoten får dras av. Kvoten kan dessutom enkelt justeras i företaget genom att kort-siktigt öka det egna kapitalet.

Lodin har nyligen presenterat ett nytt förslag som innebär att ränteavdrag ska ersättas med en skattereduktion. Räntan blir med andra ord inte längre avdragsgill, utan man får en skattereduktion på den totala skatten med ett belopp som är beroende av beskattningen i det mottagande bolaget. Den främsta styrkan i reduktionsförslaget ligger i att det helt kan eliminera de arbitragevinster som idag uppstår vid skatteplanering med räntebetalningar. Reglerna resulterar nämligen i att full neutralitet uppnås på koncernnivå. Effekten blir vidare att transaktionerna föregås av reciprocitet mellan avräk-ning och beskattning.

Den gemensamma svaga länken i de tre olika metoderna och svårigheten i att begränsa skatteplanering genom ränteavdrag ligger inte i den nationella regleringen, utan snarare i den EU-rättsliga. Den fria etableringsfriheten är ett starkt skydd och får endast hindras om det finns en godtagbar rättfärdi-gandegrund som väger tyngre. Huruvida de olika metoderna förhåller sig till etableringsfriheten är oklart. Endast underkapitaliseringsregler har kommit under EUD:s prövning i ett antal mål och ännu har inga regler kunnat rätt-färdigas. (Less)
Abstract
Reduction of the result in Swedish companies through intercompany bor-rowings is a relatively simple tax planning procedure aimed to reduce the fiscal costs in an international corporate group. The procedure is generally composed of a Swedish company raising a loan from another company within the group established in a low-tax country. The interest on the loan is deductible in the Swedish company, while the receiving company pays a low tax rate for the same interest income, alternatively no tax at all. The procedure causes a serious lack of reciprocity in the treatment of interest and will lead to a decrease in the Swedish tax base. The fact that this type of tax arrangement, including interests, is in fact only possible for companies of a... (More)
Reduction of the result in Swedish companies through intercompany bor-rowings is a relatively simple tax planning procedure aimed to reduce the fiscal costs in an international corporate group. The procedure is generally composed of a Swedish company raising a loan from another company within the group established in a low-tax country. The interest on the loan is deductible in the Swedish company, while the receiving company pays a low tax rate for the same interest income, alternatively no tax at all. The procedure causes a serious lack of reciprocity in the treatment of interest and will lead to a decrease in the Swedish tax base. The fact that this type of tax arrangement, including interests, is in fact only possible for companies of a certain size and a certain type of enterprise, leads to intra-group borrowing also contributes to a lack of neutrality.

The essay describes the current Swedish rules that limit deduction and two other possible methods of regulation; thin capitalizations rules and tax re-duction rules. The three methods have the common purpose to correct the problems due to interest deduction concerning intra-group credits. The anal-ysis identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the three methods, which include compatibility with EU law and the effectiveness due to neutrality and reciprocity of taxation.

The strengths of these methods differ quite a lot. The consequences for a company that gets stuck in the Swedish limitation rules are substantial, be-cause it results in the inability to deduct interest expenses on the loan. In this way, the rules act as a disincentive for companies to conduct advanced tax planning procedures with inter-company loans. The apparent shortcoming of the regulations is that they only prevent deduction of interest expenses on intercompany debt regarding financing the acquisition of shares. The appli-cation area of the rules is therefore very limited and they still allow tax planning through interest deduction on other types of inter-company loans.

Should Sweden introduce thin capitalization rules, (a ratio between the ac-ceptable relation between debt and equity), the predictability of the deduc-tion would increase significantly, both from an entrepreneurial and from a fiscal point of view. From an international perspective, such rules would result in Sweden taking a step towards tax law harmonization. The weakness of such rules, with the traditional ratio measurements, is that they still allow a wide scope of tax planning with intra-group interest payments, as all expenses on loans within the ratio may be deducted. The ratio can also easily be adjusted in the borrowing company by short-term increase in equity.

Lodin has recently submitted a new proposal which implies that the interest deduction should be replaced by a tax credit. In other words, the method results in the interest no longer being a deductible expense and the borrow-ing company will instead get a tax reduction on the total tax by an amount that depends on taxation in the receiving company. The main strength of the reduction method is that it can completely eliminate the current arbitrage costs that occur when tax planning through interest payments. The rules will result in complete neutrality within the corporate group. The effect is that the transactions are preceded by the reciprocity between credit and taxation.

The shared weak link of the three different methods and the difficulty of limiting the deduction of interest expenses does not lie in the hands of the Swedish judiciary, but rather in the EU law. The freedom of establishment is heavily protected and can only be disregarded from if an acceptable justi-fication ground weighs heavier. Whether the various methods are compatible to the freedom of establishment is unclear. Only thin capitalization rules have been under the trail of EUD. So far no rules have been justifiable. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Borgström, Jessica LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Interest deduction problems concerning intercompany borrowings - An analysis of strengths and weaknesses of current law and alternative solutions
course
JURM02 20112
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Skatterätt, skatt, ränta, avdrag, skatteplanering, Ränteavdrag, koncerninternt lån, räntesnurra, skattereduktion, underkapitaliseringsregler, etableringsfrihet
language
Swedish
id
2334352
date added to LUP
2012-03-14 09:26:08
date last changed
2012-03-14 09:26:08
@misc{2334352,
  abstract     = {Reduction of the result in Swedish companies through intercompany bor-rowings is a relatively simple tax planning procedure aimed to reduce the fiscal costs in an international corporate group. The procedure is generally composed of a Swedish company raising a loan from another company within the group established in a low-tax country. The interest on the loan is deductible in the Swedish company, while the receiving company pays a low tax rate for the same interest income, alternatively no tax at all. The procedure causes a serious lack of reciprocity in the treatment of interest and will lead to a decrease in the Swedish tax base. The fact that this type of tax arrangement, including interests, is in fact only possible for companies of a certain size and a certain type of enterprise, leads to intra-group borrowing also contributes to a lack of neutrality.

The essay describes the current Swedish rules that limit deduction and two other possible methods of regulation; thin capitalizations rules and tax re-duction rules. The three methods have the common purpose to correct the problems due to interest deduction concerning intra-group credits. The anal-ysis identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the three methods, which include compatibility with EU law and the effectiveness due to neutrality and reciprocity of taxation.

The strengths of these methods differ quite a lot. The consequences for a company that gets stuck in the Swedish limitation rules are substantial, be-cause it results in the inability to deduct interest expenses on the loan. In this way, the rules act as a disincentive for companies to conduct advanced tax planning procedures with inter-company loans. The apparent shortcoming of the regulations is that they only prevent deduction of interest expenses on intercompany debt regarding financing the acquisition of shares. The appli-cation area of the rules is therefore very limited and they still allow tax planning through interest deduction on other types of inter-company loans.

Should Sweden introduce thin capitalization rules, (a ratio between the ac-ceptable relation between debt and equity), the predictability of the deduc-tion would increase significantly, both from an entrepreneurial and from a fiscal point of view. From an international perspective, such rules would result in Sweden taking a step towards tax law harmonization. The weakness of such rules, with the traditional ratio measurements, is that they still allow a wide scope of tax planning with intra-group interest payments, as all expenses on loans within the ratio may be deducted. The ratio can also easily be adjusted in the borrowing company by short-term increase in equity.

Lodin has recently submitted a new proposal which implies that the interest deduction should be replaced by a tax credit. In other words, the method results in the interest no longer being a deductible expense and the borrow-ing company will instead get a tax reduction on the total tax by an amount that depends on taxation in the receiving company. The main strength of the reduction method is that it can completely eliminate the current arbitrage costs that occur when tax planning through interest payments. The rules will result in complete neutrality within the corporate group. The effect is that the transactions are preceded by the reciprocity between credit and taxation.

The shared weak link of the three different methods and the difficulty of limiting the deduction of interest expenses does not lie in the hands of the Swedish judiciary, but rather in the EU law. The freedom of establishment is heavily protected and can only be disregarded from if an acceptable justi-fication ground weighs heavier. Whether the various methods are compatible to the freedom of establishment is unclear. Only thin capitalization rules have been under the trail of EUD. So far no rules have been justifiable.},
  author       = {Borgström, Jessica},
  keyword      = {Skatterätt,skatt,ränta,avdrag,skatteplanering,Ränteavdrag,koncerninternt lån,räntesnurra,skattereduktion,underkapitaliseringsregler,etableringsfrihet},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Ränteavdragsproblematik vid koncerninterna upplåningar - En analys av styrkor och svagheter avseende gällande rätt och alternativa lösningar},
  year         = {2011},
}