The Danish Supreme Court decides the Fidelity case
The Fidelity case concerned claims brough by three undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) for the repayment of Danish withholding tax on dividends received from companies resident in Denmark between 2000 and 2009. The Supreme Court rejected the claims on the grounds that the Fidelity UCITS did not fulfil the conditions for the exemption provided by Danish law.
Danish law allowed UCITS resident in Denmark to apply for an exemption from withholding tax on dividends received from Danish companies. The granting of the exemption turned on two conditions being met: (1) the UCIT must be resident in Denmark; and (2) the UCIT must have Article 16 C fund status. The first condition (UCITS is resident in Denmark) had been held to be contrary to the free movement of capital in 2018 (see ECJ decision here). The second condition (Article 16 C fund status) was met if the UCITS undertook to make a minimum distribution and to withheld from that distribution the tax payable by its members or, after June 2005, if the UCITS calculated a minimum distribution which was taxed in the hands of the members by means of a deduction at source.
The Fidelity UCITS were not resident in Denmark and had not applied to the Danish tax authorities for Article 16 C status. They argued that it was impossible, or extremely difficult, to satisfy the Article 16 C fund status condition, and that they had no incentive to do so, because as non-resident UCITS they did not meet the first condition and were thus ineligible for the exemption in any case.
The judgment of the Danish Supreme Court
The Supreme Court held that the incompatibility of the first condition (UCITS resident in Denmark) with EU law did not mean that the funds were entitled to a repayment of the amounts of dividend taxes withheld. Turning to the second condition (Article 16 C fund status), the Court held that the condition was justified by the need to safeguard the coherence of the tax system and the need to ensure a balanced allocation of taxing rights between Member States, and that it was not a disproportionate restriction on the free movement of capital. The Court added that because the Fidelity UCITS had not applied for an Article 16 C fund status, their claims for a repayment failed because the second condition set out in the legislation for the granting of the exemption had not been complied with.
The End is Nigh for the Non-Dom Regime
Published in ThoughtLeaders4 Private Client Magazine, Helen McGhee expert analysis of the current state of non-dom tax regime and it's future.
HMRC Makes Changes to COP9
On 14 June 2023, HMRC published a substantially rewritten Code of Practice 9 (“COP9”). Helen McGhee and Megan Durnford set out the key changes implemented as a result of this publication.
Pandora Papers: HMRC issues nudge letters
The Pandora Papers leak of almost 12m documents back in 2021 purportedly exposed the secret accounts and dealings (including potential tax evasion/ avoidance and money laundering) of 35 world leaders (including the late HM Elizabeth II), as well as many politicians and billionaires. The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC and led to one of the biggest ever global financial investigations.
Increased Investment in Personal Tax Compliance in the UK (Published in Thought Leaders 4 Private Client)
Advances in technology and increased international fiscal co-operation have made global personal tax compliance initiatives pop up in abundance in recent years. To compound the issue, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the corresponding economic fallout prompted domestic governments to increase transparency in relation to investments held by wealthy foreign individuals (with a focus on oligarchs).
In the UK, in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, public opinion certainly seems to be in favour of increased accountability for high-net-worth individuals (eg, on 9 October 2022, 63% of Britons surveyed thought that “the rich are not paying enough and their taxes should be increased”).1
HMRC is one of the most sophisticated tax collection authorities in the world and the department is making significant investments in technology in the field of compliance work; they are well placed to take advantage of new international efforts to increase tax compliance, particularly considering the already extensive network of 130 bilateral tax treaties in the UK (the largest in the world).2 The UK was also a founding member of the OECD’s Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) forum.
This article discusses the main developments in support of the increased focus on international transparency and personal tax compliance in the UK. There are other international fiscal initiatives, particularly in the field of corporate taxation, but such initiatives are beyond the scope of this article.
It should be noted that a somewhat piecemeal approach, with constant tinkering makes compliance difficult for the taxpayer and is often criticised for lacking the certainty that a stable tax system needs to thrive.
This article was first published with ThoughtLeaders4 Private Client Magazine
Tax-Related Measures in the Autumn Statement 2022
On 17 November 2022, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, unveiled the contents of the Autumn Budget 2022. This comes after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published its world economic forecast on 11 October 2022. The IMF expects the British economy to grow 3.6% in 2022 and 0.3% in 2023. Other major developed economies are also expected to stagnate next year, namely Spain (1.2%), the US (1.0%), France (0.7%), Italy (-0.2%) and Germany (-0.3%).
This note focuses on tax measures included as part of that statement.