Principen mot rättsmissbruk inom det svenska mervärdesskatteområdet: är det hållbart?
The VAT Directive (2006/112/EC) does not regulate Member States’ opportunities to intervene against tax evasion. The European Court of Justice has clarified the situation in case C-255/02 Halifax. This case establish that the universal principle against the abuse of rights applies to VAT, which means that Member States have the opportunity to redefine transactions not involving a breach of law but nevertheless goes past what the legislature envisaged at the introduction of the provision.
A debate has risen as to whether the principle against the abuse of rights is equally ap-plicable in Swedish domestic law on VAT. The administrative court of appeal in Go-thenburg, Case No. 622-05, has ascertained that the principle is not applicable when it derives from the Directive and the provision has not been implemented in Swedish law as it should. Hence there is no basis for applying the principle. The Swedish tax authori-ty has released a statement asserting that the principle applies to Swedish domestic law on VAT. They believe that the principle has its basis in primary legislation and there-fore does not require legal basis in domestic law to be applicable. Most of the Swedish literature agree with the tax authority and establish that the principle should be regarded as applicable in Swedish domestic law.
The Swedish tax authority is an investigating and taxing authority and they are to follow their own positions and orientations and the principle against the abuse of rights should therefore be regarded as applicable is in Swedish domestic law on VAT.
The interpretation of legal certainty and predictability should prevail in Swedish tax law. When applying the purpose of the principle against the abuse of rights, there may be a collision between the principle against the abuse of rights and the principle of pre-dictability. The conflict is based on the state´s interest of taxation that the principle
against the abuse of rights could be considered to intend to protect and a taxpayer's right to certainty in taxation.
For the taxpayer’s certainty to be fulfilled, she shall with reasonable reliability be able to predict the tax consequences of her actions. This means that the law must be followed due to the principle of legality and future cases should be consistent with previous deci-sions. Predictability is rarely perfect and should be considered more gradually. When a taxpayer has taken an active action to maximize her tax benefits the action should be considered as a choice to give up some of the predictability provided by the taxation system. For that reason it should not be regarded as disproportionate that the principle against the abuse of rights must prevail over the principle of predictability. The ECJ has suggested it to be done like this within European Law, in case C-255/02 Halifax.
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