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C.J.E.U. Judgments on Danish Beneficial Ownership Cases

Volume 6 No 6    /    Read Article

By Thierry Lesage and Adnand Sulejmani (guest authors)

Earlier this year, the C.J.E.U. released two judgments dealing with the interpretation of the Parent-Subsidiary Directive (“P.S.D.”) and the Interest & Royalties Directive in the E.U. In each case, a structure was meticulously built to comply with national and E.U. law allowing global investors to bring funds to the E.U. in return for dividends and interest that were subject to little or no national tax in any E.U. country. Nothing in the structure was unique, other than the reticence of the Danish tax authorities to grant withholding tax exemptions. To the surprise of many, the C.J.E.U. looked at the structure and concluded that it lacked economic substance and should be disregarded by reason of a general E.U. anti-abuse principal. The internal E.U. recipients of the dividend and interest payments were not considered to be the beneficial owners of the income. Almost 50 years after the Aiken Industries case in the U.S. Tax Court and 25 years after the anti-conduit regulations were adopted by the I.R.S., European substance-over-form rules have now been adopted by judicial fiat. Thierry Lesage and Adnand Sulejmani of Arendt & Medernach SA, Luxembourg, meticulously explain the reasoning of the court and suggest that the court may have erred by conflating anti-abuse rules with beneficial ownership concepts.   See more →