Guidance released on new Double Tax Dispute Resolution
Finance Act 2019 includes enabling legislation for the implementation of Council Directive (EU) 2017/1852 (“Arbitration Directive”).
The Arbitration Directive provides for a mutual agreement procedure (“MAP”) with mandatory binding arbitration for disputes which remain unresolved after 2 years of the case having been presented for MAP. The mechanism largely renders the arbitration provisions in the OECD BEPS Multilateral Instrument redundant as between the EU Member States and builds on the existing intra-EU tax dispute resolution mechanisms under the European Arbitration Convention (90/436/EC).
There are at least two key takeaways of what the introduction of the Arbitration Directive translates into in practical terms:
Firstly, the Arbitration Directive applies to disputes arising from the interpretation and application of double tax treaties. This means that issues relating to, inter alia, withholding taxes or company residence, which were outside the scope of application of the European Arbitration Convention, can be presented for MAP under the Arbitration Directive.
Secondly, the Arbitration Directive addresses a number of shortcomings in the European Arbitration Convention, particularly in relation to the admissibility and effective handling and conclusion of cases presented for MAP. The increased supervision of national courts and of the Court of Justice of the EU is a distinct advantage. For example:
- Regulation 14 provides a right to appeal against an HMRC’s decision to reject a complaint.
- Regulation 28 allows the taxpayer to apply to the national court to set up the Advisory Commission or appoint members
- Regulation 34 provides a right to appeal against HMRC’s failure to give the effect of a final decision of the MAP proceedings.
The Arbitration Directive will apply to disputes relating to income earned or capital gained in a tax period of 12 months commencing on or after 1st January 2018.
An Assessment to Tax is never ‘stale’, but it might be out of date: HMRC v Tooth
This article briefly discusses the key points arising out of the decision of the UK Supreme Court in HMRC v Tooth  UKSC 17. The case considered (1) whether a discovery assessment could become “stale” and (2) the meaning of the phrase “deliberate inaccuracy”.
VATA 1994 s.47, Agency, Onward Supply Relief, & Double Taxation
On 12 July 2021, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber) (“FTT”) released its decision in Scanwell Logistics (UK) Limited v HMRC  UKFTT 261 (TC), rejecting the taxpayer’s claim for onward supply relief (“OSR”).
Whilst OSR is now limited, post-Brexit, to goods imported into Northern Ireland for onward supply to the EU, the FTT’s discussion of agency under section 47 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (“VATA”) is of broader interest.
The case serves as a reminder of the significant financial consequences that can result from errors in tax planning, as Scanwell was ultimately held liable for £5.7 million in unpaid import VAT despite the fact that the imported goods almost immediately left the UK (which, if properly planned, could have meant Scanwell was relieved from liability to import VAT).
Draft Finance Bill 2022—tax avoidance measures
Helen McGhee, senior associate at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, considers the draft Finance Bill 2022 clauses published on 20 July 2021 in relation to tax avoidance and recent updates to the tax avoidance regime.
Getting Closer: A Global Minimum Tax on Corporations
On 1 July 2021, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that countries representing over 90% of global GDP had agreed to a global minimum tax on corporations (“GMCT”). The GMCT seeks to put a floor on tax competition on corporate income through the introduction of a minimum corporate tax of at least 15%. Whilst certain elements give rise to positive expectations, some caveats should be noted. Much will depend on (1) the outcome of future political negotiations and (2) the detail of the drafting at international and national levels.
The DBKAG & K (CJEU) decision: an opportunity for investment funds?
On 17 June 2021, the European Court decided the joint cases K (C-58/20) and DBKAG (C-59/20) regarding whether the supply of certain services constituted the “management of special investment funds”, benefiting from the VAT exemption enshrined in Article 135(1)(g) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC.