Tom O’Shea on ECJ Scheunemann, C-31/11: German Inheritance Tax Rules Upheld by the ECJ – El TJUE respalada la normativa del Impuesto sobre Sucesiones alemán

Tom O’Shea has recently published an inspiring comment on the Scheunemann case (C-31/11) [see German Inheritance Tax Rules Upheld by the ECJTax Notes International, October 15, 2012]. We shall summarize his main findings.

Tom O’Shea acaba de publicar un valioso comentario sobre la sentencia Scheunemann (asunto C-31/11) [cfr. Tax Notes International, October 15, 2012]. Sintetizamos aquí sus principales ideas.

Trending topic: cross-border successions, free movement of capital and third countries – sucesiones internacionales, libre circulación de capitales y países terceros

“Scheunemann was resident in Germany and was the sole heir to the estate of her father, who also had resided in Germany and who died in February 2007. In Germany, inheritance tax was charged to the estate, which included a shareholding, as sole shareholder, in a capital company that had its registered office in Canada. Scheunemann was denied a reduced valuation tax advantage because the shareholding was in a Canadian company and not a German company. Scheunemann argued that such tax rules were in breach of her free movement of capital rights contained in articles 63 and 65 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)”.

“Since the Court determined that freedom of establishment was the only applicable freedom at play given the factual circumstances of this case, a shareholding in the capital of a company that has its registered office in Canada (a non-EU member country) did not fall within the scope of that freedom. Therefore, the Court held that article 49 of the TFEU did not apply to the situation in the case before the Court”.

However, in Tom O’Shea’s view, “this does not mean that free movement of capital rights involving third countries have been curbed. Third countries have not been granted freedom of establishment rights [by the TFEU], and it is clear that free movement of capital rights regarding the investment in the Canadian company has been respected”. The Court’s reasoning is coherent with its former judgment on the Thin Cap GLO (C-524/04), a case involving the U.K.’s thin capitalization rules [See Tom O’Shea, ‘‘Thin Cap GLO and Third Country Rights: Which Freedom Applies?’’ Tax Notes Int’l, Apr. 23, 2007,p. 371, Doc 2007-9386, or 2007 WTD 83-9].

Many thanks for sharing your ideas with us, dear Tom!

Scheunemann, residente en Alemania, era la única heredera de los bienes de su padre, resididente también en Alemania y fallecido en febrero de 2007. Con arreglo a la legilsación alemana, el impuesto sobre sucesiones grava la masa hereditaria, del que formaban parte la totalidad de las acciones de una sociedad canadiense. La circunstancia de que la sociedad fuese canadiense determinaba que Scheunemann no podía disfrutar de las normas de valoración más favorables previstas para las acciones de sociedades alemanas. Sheunemann alegó que esta diferencia de trato quebrantaba el derecho a la libre circulación de capitales previsto en los artículos 63 y 65 del TFUE.

El Tribunal considera que no estaba en juego la libre circulación de capitales, sino la libertad de establecimiento, cuyo ámbito de aplicación no se extiende a países terceros. A juicio de Tom O’Shea este modo de argumentar no supone vaciar de contenido la libre circulación de capitales, puesto que tal libertad no se había lesionado. El tribunal se limita a tener en cuenta que sólo quedaba afectada la libertad de establecimiento, que no se reconoce fuera del ámbito de la Unión Europea. La sentencia es coherente con el caso Thin Cap GLO (C-524/04), relativo a las reglas de subcapitalización del Reino Unido [Cfr. Tom O’Shea, ‘‘Thin Cap GLO and Third Country Rights: Which Freedom Applies?’’ Tax Notes Int’l, Apr. 23, 2007,p. 371, Doc 2007-9386, or 2007 WTD 83-9].

¡Muchas gracias por compartir tus ideas con nosotros, querido Tom!

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