Towards a Stricter Comparability Test : An EU Law Analysis of the Swedish Dividend Withholding Tax Regime in Relation to Non-EU Investment Funds
Sammanfattning: The aim of this paper is to investigate if it is compatible with the free movement of capital (Article 63 TFEU) to levy a withholding tax on Swedish-sourced dividends paid to non-EU investment funds with legal personality (in the paper referred to as investment companies). This question is of relevance since several Swedish intermediaries do not pay any income tax on dividends, either due to a formal tax exemption or to de facto practice. As such, it is clear from CJEU case law that non-EU investment companies should also be exempt from withholding tax on dividends, provided that they are in an objectively comparable situation with any of these Swedish entities and that no justification ground is applicable. The conclusion of the thesis is that there are indications of that the current Swedish lower court practice, which is to deny comparability between non-EU investment companies and Swedish tax-exempt investment funds with reference to that the foreign entities have a different legal form, is contrary to EU law. Alternatively, it is possible to find discriminatory treatment when comparing the dividend tax treatment of a non-EU investment company with the dividend tax treatment of a Swedish fiscal investment enterprise (investmentföretag). For this reason, it is welcome that leave to appeal was recently granted by the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden in one of the lower court cases dealing with this issue.
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