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"Reverse Skandia" – Tolkning av territorialitetsrekvisitet i artikel 11 mervärdesskattedirektivet med anledning av C-812/19 Danske Bank

Zarén, Anna LU (2020) JURM02 20201
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Under senare år har uppmärksammats ett ökande intresse för regleringen gällande mervärdesskattegrupper i artikel 11 rådets direktiv 2006/112/EG. Möjligheten att ingå i en mervärdesskattegrupp är särskilt betydelsefull inom viss finansiell sektor, undantagen från skatteplikt. Samtidigt kan emellertid konstateras en betydande diskrepans vad gäller implementering och tolkning av artikelbestämmelsen, särskilt med avseende på artikelns territoriella tillämpningsområde. En central fråga härvid är den mervärdesskatterättsliga behandlingen av gränsöverskridande tillhandahållanden av tjänster varvid en eller båda transaktionsparter ingår i en mervärdesskattegrupp.

I det mycket uppmärksammade mål C-7/13 Skandia synes EU-domstolen ha tillämpat en... (More)
Under senare år har uppmärksammats ett ökande intresse för regleringen gällande mervärdesskattegrupper i artikel 11 rådets direktiv 2006/112/EG. Möjligheten att ingå i en mervärdesskattegrupp är särskilt betydelsefull inom viss finansiell sektor, undantagen från skatteplikt. Samtidigt kan emellertid konstateras en betydande diskrepans vad gäller implementering och tolkning av artikelbestämmelsen, särskilt med avseende på artikelns territoriella tillämpningsområde. En central fråga härvid är den mervärdesskatterättsliga behandlingen av gränsöverskridande tillhandahållanden av tjänster varvid en eller båda transaktionsparter ingår i en mervärdesskattegrupp.

I det mycket uppmärksammade mål C-7/13 Skandia synes EU-domstolen ha tillämpat en snäv tolkning av territorialitetsrekvisitet i artikel 11, innebärande att en svensk filial genom anslutandet till en svensk mervärdesskattegrupp ansågs ha ”lösgjort sig” från den beskattningsbara person som tidigare utgjordes av filialen tillsammans med dess huvudetablering i tredjeland.

Tolkningen av territorialitetsrekvisitet i artikel 11 aktualiseras nu åter i samband med mål C-812/19 Danske Bank, ibland benämnt ”reverse Skandia”. Skatterättsnämnden synes härvid följa den linje som utarbetats av EU-domstolen i C-7/13 Skandia. Alltjämt är emellertid osäkert i vilken mån domstolens dom kan, och i synnerhet bör, tillämpas på situationer som inte fullt ut motsvarar situationen i C-7/13 Skandia. Förevarande uppsats syftar till att utreda just detta, med fokus på tolkningen av territorialitetsrekvisitet i artikel 11. Genom tillämpning av rättsdogmatisk metod diskuteras i uppsatsen den fortsatta mervärdesskatterättsliga behandlingen av gränsöverskridande tjänstetillhandahållanden varvid en eller båda transaktionsparter ingår i en mervärdesskattegrupp.

Såväl en bred som en snäv tolkning av territorialitetsrekvisitet i artikel 11 kan tänkas krocka med grundläggande principer på mervärdesskatteområdet. Å ena sidan riskerar en bred tolkning exempelvis medföra alltför långtgående externa effekter, vilket kan anses oförenligt med principen om medlemsstaternas skattesuveränitet. Å andra sidan kan en snäv tolkning anses problematisk bland annat med hänsyn till principen om skatteneutralitet. Vad gäller C-812/19 Danske Bank kan en snäv tolkning anses särskilt vansklig med hänsyn till den s.k. FCE Bank-principen.

En möjlig lösning är att tillämpa en ”kombination” av dessa två tolkningsvägar varvid tolkningen görs beroende av transaktionernas riktning. Faktum kvarstår emellertid att det i nuläget tycks saknas patentlösning för den problematik som gränsöverskridande tjänstetillhandahållanden i samband med mervärdesskattegrupper riskerar medföra. Frågan kompliceras ytterligare av rådande icke-harmonisering på området.

Sammanfattningsvis kan inte anses tydligt vilka slutsatser som kan dras av EU-domstolens bedömning i C-7/13 Skandia. Vissa frågor är alltjämt obesvarade och det kan antas osäkert i vilken utsträckning domen kan, och i synnerhet bör, tillämpas även i den omvända situationen i Danske Bank. EU-domstolens kommande avgörande i mål C-812/19 Danske Bank är mot denna bakgrund i hög grad efterlängtad – förhoppningsvis kan nuvarande oklara rättsläge härigenom tydliggöras. (Less)
Abstract
In recent years, Member States have shown an increasing interest in using the option of VAT grouping provided in Article 11 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC. The possibility of joining a VAT group is particularly useful for entities performing VAT exempt activities, such as companies in the financial sector. At the same time, there is a wide discrepancy in terms of implementation and interpretation amongst Member States. This holds especially true with regards to the territorial scope of the Article. In connection hereto, VAT treatment of cross-border supplies of services is a key issue.

In the well-known Skandia case, C-7/13, the CJEU seems to have followed a narrow interpretation of the territorial scope of Article 11. Hence, by... (More)
In recent years, Member States have shown an increasing interest in using the option of VAT grouping provided in Article 11 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC. The possibility of joining a VAT group is particularly useful for entities performing VAT exempt activities, such as companies in the financial sector. At the same time, there is a wide discrepancy in terms of implementation and interpretation amongst Member States. This holds especially true with regards to the territorial scope of the Article. In connection hereto, VAT treatment of cross-border supplies of services is a key issue.

In the well-known Skandia case, C-7/13, the CJEU seems to have followed a narrow interpretation of the territorial scope of Article 11. Hence, by joining a Swedish VAT group, the Swedish branch was dissolved for VAT purposes and separated from its American head office.

The question as to how the territorial scope of Article 11 is to be interpreted has now re-emerged in connection with case C-812/19 Danske Bank, sometimes referred to as “reverse Skandia”. The Swedish Council for Advance Tax Rulings seems to support a narrow interpretation as followed by the CJEU in C-7/13 Skandia. However, it is not yet clear whether the judgment in Skandia could, and especially should, be applied to other situations outside the facts of the case. The aim of this paper is to examine this particular issue, focusing on the interpretation of the territorial scope of Article 11. Following the legal-dogmatic method, this paper seeks to discuss the ongoing VAT treatment of cross-border supplies of services when one (or both) of the entities is part of a VAT group.

Irrespective of whether a broad or a narrow interpretation of the territorial scope of Article 11 is followed, fundamental principles of the EU VAT system risk being infringed. On the one hand, a broad interpretation could lead to overly far-reaching external effects which might run contrary to the principle of fiscal sovereignty. On the other hand, the results of a narrow interpretation are potentially in conflict with the principle of fiscal neutrality. As regards C-812/19 Danske Bank, one could argue a narrow interpretation being especially problematic in light of the FCE Bank principle.

A potential solution consists of the “combination” of the two abovementioned interpretations. Following this “combination”, the interpretation is to be determined with reference to the direction of supply. Nevertheless, as of yet there seems to be no panacea for the problems arising from cross-border supplies of services when one (or both) of the entities is part of a VAT group. The issue is further complicated due to current “non-harmonization” within the EU regarding VAT grouping.

In summary, it is not clear which conclusions are to be drawn from the Court’s judgment in C-7/13 Skandia. Some questions still remain unanswered and it is uncertain how widely the judgment could, and especially should, apply in the reverse situation as seen in Danske Bank. In view thereof, the forthcoming ruling of the Court in C-812/19 Danske Bank is highly anticipated. Hopefully, the judgment will clarify the current legal uncertainty. (Less)
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author
Zarén, Anna LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
“Reverse Skandia” – Interpreting the territorial scope of article 11 VAT Directive in connection with C-812/19 Danske Bank
course
JURM02 20201
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Skatterätt, EU-rätt, VAT, Mervärdesskatt, Mervärdesskattegrupp, VAT group, Artikel 11, EU tax law, Skandia, Danske Bank, FCE Bank
language
Swedish
id
9010504
date added to LUP
2020-06-16 10:55:56
date last changed
2020-06-16 10:55:56
@misc{9010504,
  abstract     = {In recent years, Member States have shown an increasing interest in using the option of VAT grouping provided in Article 11 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC. The possibility of joining a VAT group is particularly useful for entities performing VAT exempt activities, such as companies in the financial sector. At the same time, there is a wide discrepancy in terms of implementation and interpretation amongst Member States. This holds especially true with regards to the territorial scope of the Article. In connection hereto, VAT treatment of cross-border supplies of services is a key issue. 

In the well-known Skandia case, C-7/13, the CJEU seems to have followed a narrow interpretation of the territorial scope of Article 11. Hence, by joining a Swedish VAT group, the Swedish branch was dissolved for VAT purposes and separated from its American head office. 

The question as to how the territorial scope of Article 11 is to be interpreted has now re-emerged in connection with case C-812/19 Danske Bank, sometimes referred to as “reverse Skandia”. The Swedish Council for Advance Tax Rulings seems to support a narrow interpretation as followed by the CJEU in C-7/13 Skandia. However, it is not yet clear whether the judgment in Skandia could, and especially should, be applied to other situations outside the facts of the case. The aim of this paper is to examine this particular issue, focusing on the interpretation of the territorial scope of Article 11. Following the legal-dogmatic method, this paper seeks to discuss the ongoing VAT treatment of cross-border supplies of services when one (or both) of the entities is part of a VAT group. 

Irrespective of whether a broad or a narrow interpretation of the territorial scope of Article 11 is followed, fundamental principles of the EU VAT system risk being infringed. On the one hand, a broad interpretation could lead to overly far-reaching external effects which might run contrary to the principle of fiscal sovereignty. On the other hand, the results of a narrow interpretation are potentially in conflict with the principle of fiscal neutrality. As regards C-812/19 Danske Bank, one could argue a narrow interpretation being especially problematic in light of the FCE Bank principle. 

A potential solution consists of the “combination” of the two abovementioned interpretations. Following this “combination”, the interpretation is to be determined with reference to the direction of supply. Nevertheless, as of yet there seems to be no panacea for the problems arising from cross-border supplies of services when one (or both) of the entities is part of a VAT group. The issue is further complicated due to current “non-harmonization” within the EU regarding VAT grouping.

In summary, it is not clear which conclusions are to be drawn from the Court’s judgment in C-7/13 Skandia. Some questions still remain unanswered and it is uncertain how widely the judgment could, and especially should, apply in the reverse situation as seen in Danske Bank. In view thereof, the forthcoming ruling of the Court in C-812/19 Danske Bank is highly anticipated. Hopefully, the judgment will clarify the current legal uncertainty.},
  author       = {Zarén, Anna},
  keyword      = {Skatterätt,EU-rätt,VAT,Mervärdesskatt,Mervärdesskattegrupp,VAT group,Artikel 11,EU tax law,Skandia,Danske Bank,FCE Bank},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {"Reverse Skandia" – Tolkning av territorialitetsrekvisitet i artikel 11 mervärdesskattedirektivet med anledning av C-812/19 Danske Bank},
  year         = {2020},
}