Substance is a key element in international taxation and is relevant for the application of both domestic tax law and tax treaties. The notion of substance involves a number of elements such as (i) infrastructure (equipment, facilities and employees, etc.), (ii) corporate governance (directorship, involvement of Luxembourg directors, the place where decisions are taken, etc.), (iii) functional and risk profile, (iv) legal documentation and contractual aspects, (iv) transfer pricing documentation, (iv) the actual conduct of business activities and (v) business purpose.
Substance is crucial for managing the Luxembourg tax residency of companies and to avoid a situation in which a corporate structure is (partially) disregarded under foreign anti-abuse provisions. The notion of substance also concerns the beneficial ownership concept that is employed under tax treaties and, in some cases, under domestic tax law with the objective to avoid tax treaty or EU directive shopping. Appropriate substance is further relevant in order to avoid the application of the PPT in tax treaties.
When Luxembourg companies operate in foreign jurisdictions, it is crucial to avoid the constitution of unintentional permanent establishments that could otherwise give rise to controversy and significant tax costs in the respective host states.
In practice, there are different ways to organize the substance of a Luxembourg company ranging from companies with significant internal resources that manage most of the tasks internally to companies that rely, for cost-efficiency purposes, on an outsourcing model where certain functions are outsourced to qualified service providers (or other group companies and) monitored by the employees or the directors of the company (for example, accounting and compliance services). In other cases, asset managers may have significant substance in a management or service company that renders services to other Luxembourg companies.
The notion of substance
Substance requirements in international taxation
Substance requirements from a Luxembourg (tax) perspective
◼ Managing tax residency
◼ Luxembourg finance companies
◼ Requirements from a regulatory perspective
Substance requirements from a foreign tax perspective
◼ Anti-abuse legislation
◼ Considerations regarding appropriate substance
◼ Substance requirements in an EU context
Substance requirements from a tax treaty perspective
◼ Principal Purposes Test (PPT)
◼ Beneficial ownership
◼ Avoiding unintentional permanent establishments
Substance requirements from a transfer pricing perspective
◼ The arm’s length principle
◼ Supply chain management
◼ Transfer pricing documentation
Managing reputational risks
Case study : The Luxembourg Real Estate Fund
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Oliver R. Hoor, Tax Partner, ATOZ Tax Advisers
Oliver is a Partner in the International and Corporate Tax department of ATOZ.
A tax professional since 2003, Oliver has experience in Luxembourg and international taxation with a focus on alternative Investments (private equity, real estate, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds), mergers & acquisitions and multinational groups. Oliver advises clients on all direct tax aspects regarding deal structuring, maintenance, reorganisations and exit planning.
He is Head of Transfer Pricing and the German Desk. Oliver is further a member of the tax working groups of the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI) and the Luxembourg Private Equity Association (LPEA).
Oliver is the author of more than 250 articles and books on Luxembourg and international taxation including Transfer Pricing and related documentation requirements, the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (“BEPS”) Project and the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directives (ATAD 1 & 2), reporting obligations of tax intermediaries (DAC 6), the OECD Model Tax Convention and Tax Treaties, EU Law and the State Aid investigations of the EU Commission. He is also a regular speaker at conferences as well as a lecturer with Legitech and ILA.
Oliver is qualified as a Chartered Accountant in Luxembourg (“Expert-Comptable”) as well as a certified German tax adviser (“Steuerberater”). He holds a post-graduate degree in Luxembourg Tax and a degree in Business Administration with a major in Tax from the University of Applied Sciences of Trier (Germany).
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