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Undvikande av dubbel ickebeskattning - strategier i svenska skatteavtal

Wahl, Kajsa-Stina LU (2013) JURM02 20131
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Dubbel ickebeskattning på grund av tillämpning av skatteavtal kan definieras som den skattemässiga effekt som inträder då varken hemviststaten eller källstaten har något beskattningsanspråk i förhållande till en viss inkomst men där inkomsten skulle ha beskattats av någon stat i frånvaro av skatteavtalet. Hittills har intresset och förståelsen för de bakomliggande orsakerna varit begränsad och det har saknats en överblick över vilka strategier som är mest lämpliga för att undvika oavsiktlig dubbel ickebeskattning. I vissa fall har problematiken reducerats till en fråga om skatteavtalsmissbruk och i vissa fall har den uteblivna beskattningen betraktats som en sådan följd av skatteavtalstillämpning som måste accepteras.

För svenskt... (More)
Dubbel ickebeskattning på grund av tillämpning av skatteavtal kan definieras som den skattemässiga effekt som inträder då varken hemviststaten eller källstaten har något beskattningsanspråk i förhållande till en viss inkomst men där inkomsten skulle ha beskattats av någon stat i frånvaro av skatteavtalet. Hittills har intresset och förståelsen för de bakomliggande orsakerna varit begränsad och det har saknats en överblick över vilka strategier som är mest lämpliga för att undvika oavsiktlig dubbel ickebeskattning. I vissa fall har problematiken reducerats till en fråga om skatteavtalsmissbruk och i vissa fall har den uteblivna beskattningen betraktats som en sådan följd av skatteavtalstillämpning som måste accepteras.

För svenskt vidkommande har svagheter i skatteavtalen med Österrike och Malaysia utnyttjas för att uppnå dubbel ickebeskattning av kapital– och bolagsinkomster, vilket beräknas ha resulterat i skattebortfall i miljardklassen. Fenomenet får inte bara konsekvenser för staters skatteinkomster utan kan också leda till marknadsstörningar och ett minskat förtroende för skattesystem och skatteavtal.

Uppsatsens övergripande syfte är att analysera vilka rättsliga strategier som kan användas i skatteavtal för att undvika oavsiktlig dubbel ickebeskattning på grund av skatteavtalstillämpning, och att utifrån en komparativ analys föreslå förändringar i svenska skatteavtalsstrategier. Syftet förutsätter en genomgående systematisering av dubbel ickebeskattning som fenomen och av de strategier som förekommer i skatteavtal idag. Systematiseringen utgår från ett orsaksinriktat perspektiv eftersom en genomgående tes är att fenomenet oavsiktlig dubbel ickebeskattning varken kan analyseras eller motverkas utan en grundläggande förståelse för fenomenets orsaker. Orsakerna kan beskrivas på flera nivåer, från rent skattetekniska orsaker till allmänna utvecklingstendenser inom skatteavtalsrätten. Samtliga orsaksnivåer bidrar dock med viktiga faktorer att beakta inom ramen för en bedömning av olika strategiers lämplighet och effektivitet.

Min slutsats är att generellt tillämpliga och orsaksoberoende strategier är mest lämpliga för att samtliga ickebeskattningsfall ska täckas in. Strategierna bör dessutom vara utformade för att korrigera den underliggande asymmetrin mellan staternas folkrättsliga förpliktelser, eftersom denna asymmetri är central för fenomenets uppkomst. En stat som vill kunna bemöta samtliga situationer av dubbel ickebeskattning bör därför i min mening företrädesvis använda sig av subject to tax–villkor, i kombination med villkor som begränsar avtalets tillämpning i situationer där skatteavtalet missbrukas, exempelvis limitation of benefits–villkor. Eftersom oavsiktlig dubbel ickebeskattning även kan ses som en följd av bristande regleringsteknik måste stor vikt läggas vid den tekniska utformningen för att förhindra att strategin blir verkningslös i enskilda fall.

Nationella skatteflyktsbestämmelser utgör ett viktigt komplement till skatteavtalens villkor som en sista utväg mot situationer som inte kan undanröjas genom avtalet. Den rådande uppfattningen är att skatteavtal inte hindrar tillämpning av nationella skatteflyktsbestämmelser så länge bestämmelserna uppfyller kraven i OECD:s vägledande princip, under förutsättning att staternas kan sägas ha accepterat OECD:s inställning.

För svensk del framgår det av HFD:s uttalande obiter dicta i Perumålet att skatteflyktslagen principiellt sett är tillämplig, men prövningen i enskilda fall präglas trots detta av stor osäkerhet på grund av det fjärde rekvisitet i skatteflyktslagen. Sammantaget saknas en klar manifestation från svensk sida gentemot skattskyldiga, skattemyndigheter, domstolar och avtalspartners om skatteflyktslagens tillämplighet. I dessa avseenden bör Sverige inspireras av den kanadensiska inställningen, som präglas av en mer lättillämpad skatteflyktsbestämmelse och en större tydlighet från lagstiftarens sida. (Less)
Abstract
Tax treaty induced double non–taxation may be defined as the non–imposition of tax on certain income by both Contracting States, where the income would be subject to taxation absent the treaty. Up to now, there has been limited interest in, and appreciation of, the underlying causes, and there has been a lack of systematic review as to which strategies are deemed most appropriate for avoiding unintended double non–taxation. In some cases, the problem has been reduced to merely a question of tax treaty abuse, and in other cases, non–taxation has been regarded as an effect of tax treaty application which nevertheless must be accepted.

As far as Swedish tax treaties are concerned, loopholes in the treaties with Austria and Malaysia have... (More)
Tax treaty induced double non–taxation may be defined as the non–imposition of tax on certain income by both Contracting States, where the income would be subject to taxation absent the treaty. Up to now, there has been limited interest in, and appreciation of, the underlying causes, and there has been a lack of systematic review as to which strategies are deemed most appropriate for avoiding unintended double non–taxation. In some cases, the problem has been reduced to merely a question of tax treaty abuse, and in other cases, non–taxation has been regarded as an effect of tax treaty application which nevertheless must be accepted.

As far as Swedish tax treaties are concerned, loopholes in the treaties with Austria and Malaysia have been exploited in order to achieve double non–taxation of certain corporate income and capital gains, resulting in an estimated loss of tax revenue ranging in the billions (SEK). The non–taxation phenomenon does not only affect the fiscal interest of states, but could also lead to market distortions and a diminishing trust in tax systems, including tax treaties.

The main objective of this essay is to analyse which legal strategies may be used to avoid treaty induced unintended double non–taxation, and, based on an international comparative study, to propose changes to Swedish legal strategies. The main objective calls for a systematic approach to both the double non–taxation phenomenon and the current range of legal strategies in tax treaties. Since a general idea is that unintended double non–taxation can neither be analysed nor avoided without a basic understanding of the reasons behind the phenomenon, the systematisation is based around a cause and effect analysis. There is a hierarchy of causes, ranging from purely technical to general developments in tax treaty law. All identified causes result in important considerations when assessing the aptitude and efficiency of particular legal strategies.

My conclusion is that appropriate legal strategies should have general applicability and cover all cases of unintended double non–taxation, independent of the underlying causes, in order to be effective in every non–taxation situation. Ideally, the legal strategies should also correct the underlying asymmetrical relation between the treaty obligations of the Contracting States, which is a crucial part of the problem. Subject to tax provisions are therefore, in my opinion, the most appropriate strategy for Contracting States wishing to address all non–taxation situations. Furthermore, these provisions should be combined with provisions limiting the application of the treaty, or the granting of treaty benefits, in cases of tax treaty abuse, such as limitation of benefits provisions. Since most cases of unintended non–taxation can be attributed to regulatory inadequacies, great attention should be paid to the design and scope of treaty provisions in order to avoid instances of non–applicability.
Additionally, complementary domestic anti–avoidance legislation operates as the last resort for non–taxation situations not covered by the applicable treaty. The prevalent opinion is that tax treaties do not preclude the application of domestic anti–avoidance legislation, to the extent that the provisions are in accordance with the guiding principle proposed in the OECD model commentary, if the OECD view can be said to be accepted by the Contracting States.

As far as Sweden is concerned, the applicability in principle of the domestic statute against tax avoidance has been expressed obiter dicta by the Supreme Administrative Court in the 2012 Peru case. However, because of the technical design of the fourth requirement in the statute, the outcome in individual cases are still tinged by legal uncertainty. In summary, there is a lack of a clear manifestation by the Swedish legislator towards taxpayers, tax administrations, courts, and Sweden’s treaty partners, regarding the practical applicability of the tax avoidance statute. Here, Sweden could draw inspiration from the Canadian approach, which is characterised by a less complex domestic anti–avoidance regulation and greater clarity in terms of policy making in the area of international taxation. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Wahl, Kajsa-Stina LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Avoidance of Double Non–Taxation - Legal Strategies in Swedish Tax Treaties
course
JURM02 20131
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
skatterätt, finansrätt, komparativ rätt, skatteavtal, dubbel ickebeskattning, klassificeringskonflikter, tax treaties, double non-taxation, double tax conventions
language
Swedish
id
3786632
date added to LUP
2013-06-04 08:53:07
date last changed
2013-07-30 07:21:27
@misc{3786632,
  abstract     = {Tax treaty induced double non–taxation may be defined as the non–imposition of tax on certain income by both Contracting States, where the income would be subject to taxation absent the treaty. Up to now, there has been limited interest in, and appreciation of, the underlying causes, and there has been a lack of systematic review as to which strategies are deemed most appropriate for avoiding unintended double non–taxation. In some cases, the problem has been reduced to merely a question of tax treaty abuse, and in other cases, non–taxation has been regarded as an effect of tax treaty application which nevertheless must be accepted.

As far as Swedish tax treaties are concerned, loopholes in the treaties with Austria and Malaysia have been exploited in order to achieve double non–taxation of certain corporate income and capital gains, resulting in an estimated loss of tax revenue ranging in the billions (SEK). The non–taxation phenomenon does not only affect the fiscal interest of states, but could also lead to market distortions and a diminishing trust in tax systems, including tax treaties.

The main objective of this essay is to analyse which legal strategies may be used to avoid treaty induced unintended double non–taxation, and, based on an international comparative study, to propose changes to Swedish legal strategies. The main objective calls for a systematic approach to both the double non–taxation phenomenon and the current range of legal strategies in tax treaties. Since a general idea is that unintended double non–taxation can neither be analysed nor avoided without a basic understanding of the reasons behind the phenomenon, the systematisation is based around a cause and effect analysis. There is a hierarchy of causes, ranging from purely technical to general developments in tax treaty law. All identified causes result in important considerations when assessing the aptitude and efficiency of particular legal strategies. 

My conclusion is that appropriate legal strategies should have general applicability and cover all cases of unintended double non–taxation, independent of the underlying causes, in order to be effective in every non–taxation situation. Ideally, the legal strategies should also correct the underlying asymmetrical relation between the treaty obligations of the Contracting States, which is a crucial part of the problem. Subject to tax provisions are therefore, in my opinion, the most appropriate strategy for Contracting States wishing to address all non–taxation situations. Furthermore, these provisions should be combined with provisions limiting the application of the treaty, or the granting of treaty benefits, in cases of tax treaty abuse, such as limitation of benefits provisions. Since most cases of unintended non–taxation can be attributed to regulatory inadequacies, great attention should be paid to the design and scope of treaty provisions in order to avoid instances of non–applicability. 
Additionally, complementary domestic anti–avoidance legislation operates as the last resort for non–taxation situations not covered by the applicable treaty. The prevalent opinion is that tax treaties do not preclude the application of domestic anti–avoidance legislation, to the extent that the provisions are in accordance with the guiding principle proposed in the OECD model commentary, if the OECD view can be said to be accepted by the Contracting States.

As far as Sweden is concerned, the applicability in principle of the domestic statute against tax avoidance has been expressed obiter dicta by the Supreme Administrative Court in the 2012 Peru case. However, because of the technical design of the fourth requirement in the statute, the outcome in individual cases are still tinged by legal uncertainty. In summary, there is a lack of a clear manifestation by the Swedish legislator towards taxpayers, tax administrations, courts, and Sweden’s treaty partners, regarding the practical applicability of the tax avoidance statute. Here, Sweden could draw inspiration from the Canadian approach, which is characterised by a less complex domestic anti–avoidance regulation and greater clarity in terms of policy making in the area of international taxation.},
  author       = {Wahl, Kajsa-Stina},
  keyword      = {skatterätt,finansrätt,komparativ rätt,skatteavtal,dubbel ickebeskattning,klassificeringskonflikter,tax treaties,double non-taxation,double tax conventions},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Undvikande av dubbel ickebeskattning - strategier i svenska skatteavtal},
  year         = {2013},
}