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Saturday, 28 February 2015 18:12

Tax investigations toward HSBC

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HSBC threatened with a Tax investigation by the US Government?

The threat of U.S. prosecution looms over HSBC Holdings PLC like the sword of Damocles after a groundbreaking report revealed that it helped clients hide cash from various tax authorities. These reports cast HSBC, HSBC’s Holding’s parent bank, in an unsavory light and is the latest round of negative publicity to besmirch the British bank’s reputation. As such, it sent shockwaves through the foundation of HSBC.
The basis for these reports are documents provided by Herve Falciani, a former employee of HSBC.

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Seychelles Islands 85 signatory to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters became.

The signing of the Convention represents another important step in the efforts of Seychelles to improve its legal framework and practices in the field of exchange of information for tax purposes.

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In accordance with the Directive the subsidiaries are effectively exempt from withholding taxes on dividends and taxes on profit distributions in case of making payments to the parent companies. This option was misused sometimes to minimize taxation.
For example, a third country beneficiary may own an operating company in his jurisdiction through the Dutch, Latvian or Luxembourg holding company and an offshore company on top of it. In case of payment of dividends from Luxembourg / Latvia / the Netherlands directly to offshore, such dividends shall be subject to a withholding tax at the rate of 15%. To reduce the tax burden, some consultants recommended to interpose over the Luxembourg, Dutch or Latvian company a Cyprus, Malta or another holding company in the country, in which the dividends are tax exempt if paid to the offshore. In this case, dividends from Latvia, the Netherlands and Luxembourg to Cyprus would be tax exempt according to the rules of the Directive on parent and subsidiary companies, and from Cyprus such payments would be tax-exempt in accordance with the local legislation.

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has issued a judgment in the above case which related to whether the letting of a stadium (with other services) to a football club and for only 18 days per year, constituted a letting of immovable property (VAT exempt) or a taxable supply of services.

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The European Commission has recently issued an official guide concerning the VAT rates applied in the Member States of the European Union as of 01 January 2015. The guide provides with the standard VAT rates applied in the EU Member States, the reduced VAT rates applied to the categories of goods and services contained in Annex III of the VAT Directive 2006/112/EC, the application of the parking rate in certaind Member States, the list for the super-reduced VAT rate ( lower than 5%), as well as the evolution of the VAT rates in the Member States of the European Union.

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As of 1 January 2015, all EU Member States are introducing VAT changes. The new rules mainly concern the supply of electronic, telecommunication and broadcasting services made by non-EU suppliers to private individuals and non-business consumers that shall be taxable in the Member State of the consumer or in the Member State where the services have been used or enjoyed. In order to be able to avoid VAT registration in all Member States, suppliers shall be allowed to use the so called “Mini One Stop Shop”.

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