Economic Substance

Economic substance plays an important role in international tax planning, as it aims to create a transparent and fair tax system. The presence of economic substance ensures compliance with tax obligations, eliminates opportunities for tax evasion and prevents tax abuse.

Companies operating outside their home country may seek to optimize their tax burden by using various tax instruments and structures. However, for these instruments and structures to be legitimate in terms of international law, it is necessary to be convinced of the presence of economic substance. This means that the company must actually exist, have a physical presence, actively participate in business processes and provide real services or products in accordance with the volume and nature of its activities in the country of its registration or financial interest.

The presence of economic substance helps to prevent the creation of artificial structures designed to evade taxation. Such structures, which do not make real economic sense and are associated with a low or no tax burden, can be considered as companies for tax evasion and subject to inspections and fines by regulatory authorities. In this context, economic substance becomes a tool for achieving a balance between tax optimization and legal compliance.

What is Economic Substance?

The concept of “Economic Substance” refers to the presence and active real activity of a company in a certain country in the framework of international tax planning. This concept is associated with the need to comply with tax obligations in the country where the company is registered or operates, and the prevention of tax abuses. Economic substance implies not only the legal registration of the company and the presence of a legal address in the country, but also the actual physical presence of the company, active business activities, participation in the economic life of the country and the compliance of the volume and nature of the activity with the services or products provided.

Importance of Economic Substance in International Tax Planning

Economic substance plays an important role in creating a transparent and fair tax system. Companies with economic substance actually participate in the economic activity of the country where they operate. They make their fair tax contribution based on actual profits generated from actual transactions. This contributes to maintaining equal competition between companies and creating fair conditions in the market.

At the same time, the lack of economic substance can lead to a number of risks and consequences for companies:

Economic substance is an integral part of tax compliance and ethical standards. Companies demonstrating economic substance confirm their readiness to fulfill tax obligations in accordance with legal requirements and make a fair contribution to the development of the country’s economy.

Companies seeking international tax planning should take into account the importance of economic substance to ensure tax transparency, fairness and efficiency. This will help them avoid the risks associated with tax disputes and loss of reputation, as well as confirm their commitment to the law and ethical principles in the field of tax planning.

Criteria of economic substance

To determine the economic substance in international tax planning, various criteria are used that help to assess the reality of the presence and activity of a company in a particular country. Below are the main criteria that are used to determine the substance:

  1. Physical presence: One of the main criteria for economic substance is the company’s physical presence in a particular country. This may include the presence of offices, factories, warehouses, retail outlets or other facilities related to the company’s business activities. Physical presence confirms that the company actually functions and carries out its activities in the country.
  2. Active Business Activity: The active business measure assesses the volume and nature of operations carried out by a company in a particular country. This may include the sale of products or services, the conclusion of contracts with customers and suppliers, participation in local trading operations and other activities related to real business.
  3. Real profit and tax base: The real profit and tax base of a company are also important criteria for economic substance. The company must demonstrate that its profit reflects the actual economic activity and is consistent with the volume and nature of the services or products provided. It must be taxable in the country where it operates and pay appropriate taxes based on real profits.
  4. Qualified employees and management: The presence of qualified employees and effective management are also important criteria for economic substance. The company must have real employees capable of managing and carrying out business operations, and they must be suitably qualified to carry out their duties. This confirms the active participation of the company in economic activity.
  5. Compliance with local legal requirements: The company must comply with local legal requirements and regulations related to its activities. This includes registering a company, obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, complying with reporting and documentation requirements, and complying with applicable tax regulations.

Note: It is important to note that specific tax substance criteria may vary by country and its tax system. In addition, different entities and tax authorities may apply their own criteria for assessing tax substance.

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