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Using the U.K. as a Holding Company Jurisdiction: Opportunities and Challenges

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At a time when a quintet of septuagenarian comics attempt to revive former glories with a final run of a live show of Monty Python in London, it is worth reflecting on the Holy Grail of the international tax practitioner: to find the perfect international holding company jurisdiction.

In this, the holding company jurisdiction needs certain characteristics:

  • The possibility of returning profits to shareholders with minimal tax leakage;
  • The ability to receive profits from underlying subsidiaries without taxation at home;
  • The ability to dispose of investments in the underlying subsidiaries without triggering a tax charge on any profit or gain;
  • A good treaty network to ensure that profits can be repatriated to the holding company from underlying subsidiaries, whilst minimizing local withholding taxes; and
  • Low risk from anti-avoidance measures that profits of subsidiaries will otherwise be taxed in the holding company jurisdiction.

The U.K. has emerged over the last decade as an increasingly viable holding company jurisdiction, particularly for investments in countries within the European Union.