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Proportionalitetsbedömningen av nationella inkomstskatteregler - en analys av rättsutvecklingen i EU-domstolens praxis

Gustafsson, Pia LU (2013) JURM02 20131
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
En medlemsstats nationella inkomstskatteregel som hindrar eller inskränker EUF-fördragets bestämmelser om fri rörlighet kan anses vara rättfärdigad om den uppfyller vissa kriterier. Det centrala i denna uppsats är den bedömning som EU-domstolen gör för att avgöra huruvida regeln är rättfärdigad eller ej. Detta innebär att uppsatsen innehåller en redogörelse för det så kallade rule of reason-testet, men framför allt ligger arbetets fokus på den sista delen i detta test, det vill säga proportionalitetsbedömningen.

I den traditionella beskrivningen av proportionalitetsbedömningen sägs den innehålla tre delar. För det första måste regeln eller åtgärden vara lämplig för att nå det eftersträvade målet. För det andra måste åtgärden vara den... (More)
En medlemsstats nationella inkomstskatteregel som hindrar eller inskränker EUF-fördragets bestämmelser om fri rörlighet kan anses vara rättfärdigad om den uppfyller vissa kriterier. Det centrala i denna uppsats är den bedömning som EU-domstolen gör för att avgöra huruvida regeln är rättfärdigad eller ej. Detta innebär att uppsatsen innehåller en redogörelse för det så kallade rule of reason-testet, men framför allt ligger arbetets fokus på den sista delen i detta test, det vill säga proportionalitetsbedömningen.

I den traditionella beskrivningen av proportionalitetsbedömningen sägs den innehålla tre delar. För det första måste regeln eller åtgärden vara lämplig för att nå det eftersträvade målet. För det andra måste åtgärden vara den minst ingripande åtgärden som finns för att nå målet och för det tredje krävs det även att åtgärden är proportionerlig i strikt bemärkelse, den får därmed inte lägga en alltför stor börda på den enskilde. I doktrinen har det framförts uppfattningar om att EU-domstolen i vissa fall frångick denna innebörd av proportionalitetsbedömningen redan på 1980-talet, exempelvis genom att domstolen i bedömningen la in krav på vissa processuella garantier. Då gällde det mål på andra områden än direkt beskattning, men paralleller kan dras från detta till dagens rättsutveckling.

Uppsatsen behandlar ett antal rättsfall från EU-domstolen som avgjorts under de senaste åren, där en inskränkande inkomstskatteregel prövats mot främst rättfärdigandegrunderna om behovet av en effektiv skattekontroll samt behovet att motverka skatteflykt. Det är min uppfattning att EU-domstolen i samtliga fall lägger ett större fokus på reglernas administrativa och processuella utformningar, snarare än dess materiella innebörd. I samtliga fall är det i samband med den andra delen av proportionalitetsbedömningen, det vill säga nödvändighetskriteriet, som domstolen påför ett antal administrativa krav på de aktuella åtgärderna. SIAT-målet är det rättsfall som fått störst utrymme i detta arbete och som också har primärt fokus i min analys. I målet lägger domstolen för första gången gällande en inkomstskatteregel uttryckligen in ett rättssäkerhetskrav inom ramen för proportionalitetsbedömningen. Domstolen menade härvid att rättsregler som inte uppfyller detta rättssäkerhetskrav inte kan vara proportionerliga i förhållande till dess syften.

Det är min uppfattning att den rättsutveckling som skett i EU-domstolens praxis innebär att omfånget av proportionalitetsbedömningen har breddats. Detta på så vis att fokus för bedömningen nu alltmer ligger på den aktuella regelns processuella och administrativa utformning. I och med SIAT-målet kan det dessutom argumenteras för att bedömningen i viss mån blivit striktare, då det nu uttryckliga kravet på rättssäkerhet kan leda till att det blir svårare för medlemsstaterna att lagstifta kring exempelvis skatteflykt.

För Sveriges del kan kravet på rättssäkerhet innebära att vissa regler kan anses strida mot EU-rätten. I uppsatsen har härvid skatteflyktslagen samt ränteavdragsbegränsningsreglerna undersökts närmare. I doktrin har kritik framförts mot båda regleringarna och jag instämmer i denna kritik. Enligt min mening går det inte att i förväg med tillräcklig precision avgöra omfattningen av reglernas tillämplighet och de riskerar därmed att inte uppfylla proportionalitetsbedömningens krav på rättssäkerhet. Vad gäller ränteavdragsbegränsningsreglerna har EU-kommissionen dessutom tagit första steget i en fördragsbrottstalan mot Sverige gällande dess förenlighet med den fria rörligheten och det finns därmed en risk för att reglerna kan komma att underkännas som rättsstridiga. (Less)
Abstract
A member state’s national income tax legislation, which prevents or restricts the provisions on free movement in the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, can be justified if it meets certain criteria. The essence of this thesis is the assessment made by the European Court of Justice (the Court) to determine whether the legislation is justified or not. This means that this thesis contains an account for the so-called rule of reason-test, with focus on the last part of the test consisting of a proportionality assessment.

The proportionality test has traditionally been said to include three parts. Firstly, the rule or measure must be appropriate to achieve the desired objective. Secondly, the measure must be the least... (More)
A member state’s national income tax legislation, which prevents or restricts the provisions on free movement in the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, can be justified if it meets certain criteria. The essence of this thesis is the assessment made by the European Court of Justice (the Court) to determine whether the legislation is justified or not. This means that this thesis contains an account for the so-called rule of reason-test, with focus on the last part of the test consisting of a proportionality assessment.

The proportionality test has traditionally been said to include three parts. Firstly, the rule or measure must be appropriate to achieve the desired objective. Secondly, the measure must be the least restrictive measure available to achieve the objective. Thirdly, the measure must be proportionate in a narrow sense, which means that it cannot be disproportionate to is purpose. Opinions have been put forward in judicial doctrine that the Court, as early as in the 1980’s, in some cases deviated from this definition of the test by, for example, applying some procedural guarantees to the proportionality test. The above mentioned cases concerned other areas than direct taxation, none the less parallels can still be drawn from this and applied to today’s legal development.

The paper deals with a number of cases from the Court which have been settled during the last couple of years. These are cases where a restricting rule on income tax has been tried against the need for preserving the effectiveness of fiscal supervision and preventing tax evasion and avoidance. It is my opinion that the Court in these cases focuses on the administrative and procedural design of the rules, rather than their substantive meaning. It is in all cases in connection with the second part of the proportionality test, which concerns the necessity of the measure, that the Court applies a number of administrative requirements on the measure in question. The primary focus of the paper’s analysis is the SIAT case. SIAT is the first case concerning income tax where the Court explicitly has applied a requirement of the principle of legal certainty within the scope of the proportionality test. The Court’s opinion was that rules that do not meet the requirements of the principle of legal certainty cannot be considered proportionate to the objectives pursued.

It is my opinion that the legal development in the Court’s case law means that the scope of the proportionality assessment has been broadened, since the focus of the assessment increasingly seems to be on the procedural and administrative design of the rules in question. One could also suggest that the assessment has been made more stringent because of the SIAT case, since the now explicit requirement of the principle of legal certainty can limit the member states’ ability to legislate on for example tax evasion and avoidance.

The requirement of the principle of legal certainty can lead to certain Swedish rules being considered not compatible with union law. The Swedish Tax Evasion Act and the rules in the Swedish Income Tax Act which limit the right to deduct certain interest expenses in the corporate sector have in regard to this been analyzed. Criticism has been expressed in judicial doctrine on both regulations, which I concur to. It is, in my opinion, not possible at the outset to determine the scope of the rules with sufficient precision and they are therefore at risk of not meeting the requirements of the proportionality test concerning the principle of legal certainty. The European Commission has taken the first step towards actions for failure to fulfill obligations, in regards to the rules concerning limitations on interest deduction. There is therefore a risk that the rules are considered not compatible with the provisions on free movement and thereby rejected as not consistent with union law. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Gustafsson, Pia LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The Proportionality Assessment of National Income Tax Rules - an Analysis of the Legal Development in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice
course
JURM02 20131
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
EU-rätt, skatterätt, rule of reason, proportionalitet, SIAT
language
Swedish
id
3771670
date added to LUP
2013-06-04 08:52:09
date last changed
2013-06-04 08:52:09
@misc{3771670,
  abstract     = {A member state’s national income tax legislation, which prevents or restricts the provisions on free movement in the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, can be justified if it meets certain criteria. The essence of this thesis is the assessment made by the European Court of Justice (the Court) to determine whether the legislation is justified or not. This means that this thesis contains an account for the so-called rule of reason-test, with focus on the last part of the test consisting of a proportionality assessment.

The proportionality test has traditionally been said to include three parts. Firstly, the rule or measure must be appropriate to achieve the desired objective. Secondly, the measure must be the least restrictive measure available to achieve the objective. Thirdly, the measure must be proportionate in a narrow sense, which means that it cannot be disproportionate to is purpose. Opinions have been put forward in judicial doctrine that the Court, as early as in the 1980’s, in some cases deviated from this definition of the test by, for example, applying some procedural guarantees to the proportionality test. The above mentioned cases concerned other areas than direct taxation, none the less parallels can still be drawn from this and applied to today’s legal development. 

The paper deals with a number of cases from the Court which have been settled during the last couple of years. These are cases where a restricting rule on income tax has been tried against the need for preserving the effectiveness of fiscal supervision and preventing tax evasion and avoidance. It is my opinion that the Court in these cases focuses on the administrative and procedural design of the rules, rather than their substantive meaning. It is in all cases in connection with the second part of the proportionality test, which concerns the necessity of the measure, that the Court applies a number of administrative requirements on the measure in question. The primary focus of the paper’s analysis is the SIAT case. SIAT is the first case concerning income tax where the Court explicitly has applied a requirement of the principle of legal certainty within the scope of the proportionality test. The Court’s opinion was that rules that do not meet the requirements of the principle of legal certainty cannot be considered proportionate to the objectives pursued.

It is my opinion that the legal development in the Court’s case law means that the scope of the proportionality assessment has been broadened, since the focus of the assessment increasingly seems to be on the procedural and administrative design of the rules in question. One could also suggest that the assessment has been made more stringent because of the SIAT case, since the now explicit requirement of the principle of legal certainty can limit the member states’ ability to legislate on for example tax evasion and avoidance.

The requirement of the principle of legal certainty can lead to certain Swedish rules being considered not compatible with union law. The Swedish Tax Evasion Act and the rules in the Swedish Income Tax Act which limit the right to deduct certain interest expenses in the corporate sector have in regard to this been analyzed. Criticism has been expressed in judicial doctrine on both regulations, which I concur to. It is, in my opinion, not possible at the outset to determine the scope of the rules with sufficient precision and they are therefore at risk of not meeting the requirements of the proportionality test concerning the principle of legal certainty. The European Commission has taken the first step towards actions for failure to fulfill obligations, in regards to the rules concerning limitations on interest deduction. There is therefore a risk that the rules are considered not compatible with the provisions on free movement and thereby rejected as not consistent with union law.},
  author       = {Gustafsson, Pia},
  keyword      = {EU-rätt,skatterätt,rule of reason,proportionalitet,SIAT},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Proportionalitetsbedömningen av nationella inkomstskatteregler - en analys av rättsutvecklingen i EU-domstolens praxis},
  year         = {2013},
}