La Direttiva 2016/1164/UE (“Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive” o “ATAD”) si proponeva di stabilire uno standard minimo di misure per combattere l’evasione fiscale e l’abuso utilizzando schemi di pianificazione fiscale “aggressivi” sia in situazioni nazionali che transfrontaliere che coinvolgono gli Stati membri. In contraddizione con l’obiettivo di fondo dell’ATAD di assicurare una tassazione equa ed efficace all’interno dell’UE in modo sufficientemente coerente e coordinato, non sono state incluse definizioni per termini così fondamentali come “contribuente”, “stabile organizzazione” e “imposta sulle società”. Presumibilmente, la loro assenza è incline a favorire lo sviluppo di una comprensione frammentaria tra gli Stati membri. Questo articolo mira a gettare le basi per colmare questa lacuna. In particolare, il fulcro della riflessione si concentrerà sui canoni di interpretazione in conformità alle precedenti direttive pertinenti, al fine di salvaguardare una comprensione uniforme del diritto eurounitario sulla tassazione delle società.
Defining the essence of the terms “taxpayer”, “permanent establishment” and “corporate tax” for purposes of the ATAD
The directive no. 2016/1164/EU (“Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive” or “ATAD”) set out to establish a minimum standard of measures to combat tax evasion and abuse using “aggressive” tax planning schemes in both domestic and cross-border situations involving the Member States. In contradiction with the ATAD’s underlying objective to ensure fair and effective taxation within the EU in a sufficiently coherent and coordinated fashion, definitions for terms so fundamental as “taxpayer,” “permanent establishment” and “corporate tax” were not included. Presumably, their absence is prone to foster the evolvement of fragmented understanding among the Member States. This article aims to start filling this gap. Attention will be particularly drawn to ways of interpretation in accordance with earlier relevant directives to safeguard a uniform understanding for the purposes of EU corporate taxation law as a whole.
Keywords: ATAD; permanent establishment; taxpayer.
1. Art. 1 Para. 1 of Directive no. 2016/1164/EU (“ATAD”) basically stipulates the anti-tax avoidance rules to be applied to “to all taxpayers that are subject to corporate tax in one or more Member States, including permanent establishments in one or more Member States of entities resident for tax purposes in a third country.” Similar to the traditional corporate tax directives – i.e. Directives no. 2009/133/EG (consolidated) (“Merger Directive”), 2011/96/EU (recast) (“Parent-Subsidiary Directive”), and 2011/96/EU (consolidated) (“Interest-Royalties Directive”) – the ATAD thus fundamentally resorts to taxpayers subject to corporate tax.
This basic finding notwithstanding, a comparative assessment reveals that the ATAD does not entail definitions for the basic terms “corporate tax,” “taxpayer,” or “permanent establishment.” In contrast, the traditional corporate tax directives encompass provisions and related annexes, respectively, which expressly enumerate the relevant entities and national taxes (Art. 3 in accordance with Annex I Merger Directive; Art. 2 in accordance with Annex I Parent-Subsidiary Directive; Art. 3 in accordance with Annex Interest-Royalties Directive). Moreover, both Art. 2 b) Parent-Subsidiary Directive and Art. 3 c) Interest-Royalties Directive include definitions for what is to be regarded as a “permanent establishment” for purposes of the respective directives.
Accordingly, the probable essence of these three terms in context with the ATAD will be discussed in the following in order to provide for guidelines on the interpretation and application of the respective adoption provisions.
2. Naturally, the enumerations including the relevant taxpayers for the purposes of the traditional corporate tax directives show remarkable differences regarding the type and number of entities determined by the Member States to be covered by the respective directive’s scope, depending on the concrete national tax regime (particularly, whether or under which conditions partnerships are regarded as transparent entities for income and corporate tax purposes). Apart from eventual country-specific particularities, divergencies can also be partly identified regarding the covered corporations of a single Member State. For the purposes of Italian entities the sole deviation can be found regarding mutual associations (“società di mutua assicurazione”) which are only covered by the scopes of the Merger and the Parent-Subsidiary Directives, but not of the Interest-Royalties Directive (Annex I Part A l) Merger Directive; Annex I Part A l) Parent-Subsidiary Directive; Annex h) Interest-Royalties Directive). Concerning Austrian entities the group of covered legal bodies differs to a higher extent; as a result, only stock corporations and corporations with limited tax liability (i.e., [continua..]