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Good faith som tolkningsprincip i skatteavtalsrätten - Kan skatteavtalsfördelar nekas en skattebetalare i fall där det skulle strida mot skatteavtalets ändamål och syfte att garantera dem?

Engdahl, Linn LU (2015) JURM02 20151
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Stater ingår skatteavtal huvudsakligen i syfte att undanröja internationell juridisk dubbelbeskattning, som anses uppställa ett hinder för utvecklingen av mellanstatliga ekonomiska förbindelser. I skatteavtal förpliktigar sig stater att begränsa sina skatteanspråk till förmån för den andra statens beskattningsrätt. Avtalens begränsande effekt i kombination med skillnader i staters interna skattesystem kan nyttjas av skattebetalare i syfte att undvika skatt. Om en situation skapats där ingen dubbelbeskattningsrisk föreligger, faller huvudanledningen att låta skatteavtalet begränsa interna skatteanspråk. Skatteavtal är inte tänkta att hjälpa skattebetalare undvika beskattning. Vissa skatteavtal syftar till och med till att förhindra... (More)
Stater ingår skatteavtal huvudsakligen i syfte att undanröja internationell juridisk dubbelbeskattning, som anses uppställa ett hinder för utvecklingen av mellanstatliga ekonomiska förbindelser. I skatteavtal förpliktigar sig stater att begränsa sina skatteanspråk till förmån för den andra statens beskattningsrätt. Avtalens begränsande effekt i kombination med skillnader i staters interna skattesystem kan nyttjas av skattebetalare i syfte att undvika skatt. Om en situation skapats där ingen dubbelbeskattningsrisk föreligger, faller huvudanledningen att låta skatteavtalet begränsa interna skatteanspråk. Skatteavtal är inte tänkta att hjälpa skattebetalare undvika beskattning. Vissa skatteavtal syftar till och med till att förhindra skatteflykt. En central fråga inom skatteavtalsrätten är om stater är förpliktigade att begränsa sina skatteanspråk i fall där detta snarare skulle hjälpa skattebetalare undvika beskattning än att eliminera risken för inkomster att dubbelbeskattas.

Frågan kan behöva hanteras som en traktattolkningsfråga. I VCLT art 31-33 finns principerna för folkrättslig traktattolkning kodifierade. Enligt OECD:s modellavtalskommentar innefattar förpliktelsen i art 31 att tolka en traktat in good faith och mot bakgrund av traktatens syfte och ändamål, en möjlighet att neka skatteavtalsfördelar om det skulle strida mot syftet med den tolkade avtalsbestämmelsen att garantera dess förmåner i det specifika fallet. Huvudsyftet med uppsatsen har varit att analysera om tolkningsprincipen good faith tillhandahåller en möjlighet att neka skatteavtalsfördelar i fall där det skulle strida mot skatteavtalets ändamål och syften att garantera dem.

Good faith understryker det yttersta målet med traktattolkning; att framkomma med en tolkning som överensstämmer med norminnehållet traktatparterna gemensamt önskat ge bestämmelserna och tillämpa avtalet i enlighet med detta. I motsats till vad OECD implicerat, måste ett nekande av en skatteavtalsfördel genom art 31 stödjas av traktatens ordalydelse. Art 31 bygger på presumtionen att traktatparterna språkligt arrangerat så att applicering av traktaten leder till realisation av traktatsyftena, och kan därför förklaras av principen om good faith. VCLT art 32 ger en möjlighet att etablera en tolkning som faller utanför ramen för traktatens ordalydelse om tolkningarna enligt art 31 påvisas vara uppenbart orimliga eller oförnuftiga. Den underliggande förklaringen till detta sägs vara principen om good faith. En slutsats i denna uppsats är att good faith innebär en förpliktelse att tolka traktat så att dess syften realiseras. En annan slutsats är att uttolkare bör vara restriktiva när det kommer till att uttolka vad som utgör ett skatteavtalssyfte, och det inte är tillräckligt att neka skatteanspråksnedsättning enbart på grund av att en nedsättning skulle leda till låg eller ingen beskattning. (Less)
Abstract
The main reason for states to enter into tax treaties is to prevent international juridical double taxation, which is considered to have harmful effects on cross-border economic relations. In tax treaties, states oblige themselves through international law not to raise taxes with respect to taxing rights given to the other state under the treaty. A well-known problem is that taxpayers can exploit the restricting power of tax treaties combined with differences between various states’ tax laws to avoid taxation. Considering that a situation might have been created where no risk for double taxation is eliminated, the main reason for restricting taxing rights no longer exist. Tax treaties are not intended to help tax payers avoid taxation. A... (More)
The main reason for states to enter into tax treaties is to prevent international juridical double taxation, which is considered to have harmful effects on cross-border economic relations. In tax treaties, states oblige themselves through international law not to raise taxes with respect to taxing rights given to the other state under the treaty. A well-known problem is that taxpayers can exploit the restricting power of tax treaties combined with differences between various states’ tax laws to avoid taxation. Considering that a situation might have been created where no risk for double taxation is eliminated, the main reason for restricting taxing rights no longer exist. Tax treaties are not intended to help tax payers avoid taxation. A purpose of some tax treaties is even to prevent tax avoidance. A question is whether the obligation to restrict taxing rights exists when this would rather result in helping taxpayers avoid taxation than eliminating double taxation.

The question might have to be handled as a question of treaty interpretation. VCLT Art 31-33 codifies the international treaty interpretation rules. The commentary to the OECD model tax convention suggest that a right to deny treaty benefits when a tax payer has entered into a transaction that is considered abusive towards the tax treaty, can be derived from the obligation in Art 31 to interpret a treaty in good faith and in the light of its object and purpose. The main purpose of this paper has been to analyze the principle of good faith and investigate whether it contains a possibility to deny treaty benefits when granting them would be contrary to the object and purpose of the tax treaty.

The principle of good faith stresses the goal of treaty interpretation; to analyze the treaty text for the purpose of establishing how the treaty parties intended it to be understood, and apply it accordingly. Somewhat contrary to what the OECD has implied, denial of treaty benefits based on art 31 always have to be supported by the treaty terms. Art 31 is based on the presumption that the text is the authentic expression of the party intention, and can thus be explained by the principle of good faith. Art 32 of the VCLT contains a possibility to establish an interpretation that deviates from the treaty text if the interpretation established through Art 31 is considered manifestly absurd or unreasonable. The principle of good faith is said to underlie this possibility too. One conclusion of this paper is that good faith thus provides an obligation to interpret a treaty so that it remains teleologically effective. Another conclusion is that interpreters should be restrictive when it comes to interpreting what is a treaty purpose and that it should never be adequate for an interpreter to deny tax reduction simply because granting it would result in very low taxation or no taxation at all. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Engdahl, Linn LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Good faith in tax treaty interpretation - Is it possible to deny tax treaty benefits when granting them would be contrary to the object and purpose of the tax treaty?
course
JURM02 20151
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Skatterätt, folkrätt
language
Swedish
id
5434161
date added to LUP
2015-06-05 12:31:39
date last changed
2015-06-05 12:31:39
@misc{5434161,
  abstract     = {The main reason for states to enter into tax treaties is to prevent international juridical double taxation, which is considered to have harmful effects on cross-border economic relations. In tax treaties, states oblige themselves through international law not to raise taxes with respect to taxing rights given to the other state under the treaty. A well-known problem is that taxpayers can exploit the restricting power of tax treaties combined with differences between various states’ tax laws to avoid taxation. Considering that a situation might have been created where no risk for double taxation is eliminated, the main reason for restricting taxing rights no longer exist. Tax treaties are not intended to help tax payers avoid taxation. A purpose of some tax treaties is even to prevent tax avoidance. A question is whether the obligation to restrict taxing rights exists when this would rather result in helping taxpayers avoid taxation than eliminating double taxation.

The question might have to be handled as a question of treaty interpretation. VCLT Art 31-33 codifies the international treaty interpretation rules. The commentary to the OECD model tax convention suggest that a right to deny treaty benefits when a tax payer has entered into a transaction that is considered abusive towards the tax treaty, can be derived from the obligation in Art 31 to interpret a treaty in good faith and in the light of its object and purpose. The main purpose of this paper has been to analyze the principle of good faith and investigate whether it contains a possibility to deny treaty benefits when granting them would be contrary to the object and purpose of the tax treaty.

The principle of good faith stresses the goal of treaty interpretation; to analyze the treaty text for the purpose of establishing how the treaty parties intended it to be understood, and apply it accordingly. Somewhat contrary to what the OECD has implied, denial of treaty benefits based on art 31 always have to be supported by the treaty terms. Art 31 is based on the presumption that the text is the authentic expression of the party intention, and can thus be explained by the principle of good faith. Art 32 of the VCLT contains a possibility to establish an interpretation that deviates from the treaty text if the interpretation established through Art 31 is considered manifestly absurd or unreasonable. The principle of good faith is said to underlie this possibility too. One conclusion of this paper is that good faith thus provides an obligation to interpret a treaty so that it remains teleologically effective. Another conclusion is that interpreters should be restrictive when it comes to interpreting what is a treaty purpose and that it should never be adequate for an interpreter to deny tax reduction simply because granting it would result in very low taxation or no taxation at all.},
  author       = {Engdahl, Linn},
  keyword      = {Skatterätt,folkrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Good faith som tolkningsprincip i skatteavtalsrätten - Kan skatteavtalsfördelar nekas en skattebetalare i fall där det skulle strida mot skatteavtalets ändamål och syfte att garantera dem?},
  year         = {2015},
}