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Tax

Optimising your position.

Supra-national institutions like the OECD and the EU are pressing ahead with initiatives designed to harmonise tax rules and reduce aggressive tax planning and avoidance.

At the same time, recent political changes raise the prospect of fresh tax cuts for business in the US, with the potential for more significant measures designed to facilitate or encourage repatriation of profit.

In this fast-changing context, businesses need to keep their tax strategies under close review. They also need a global view of the tax factors influencing deals, trade, corporate structure, financing and disputes in multiple jurisdictions.

Freshfields is known for delivering strategic advice that helps clients optimise their position, whether in relation to transactions, disputes, investigations or restructuring. Our international team of tax specialists works closely with our corporate, disputes, arbitration, antitrust, financing and IP lawyers to help our clients maximise opportunities, while minimising risks.

Client successes

The FTA had mounted a very aggressive BEPS-inspired challenge, in which they had alleged tax fraud and conducted dawn raids.

After dropping the fraud allegations, the FTA contended, on the basis of the French general anti-abuse rules and transfer pricing rules, that the group’s operating model resulted in an over-allocation of taxable income to the Swiss company relative to that company’s actual risks, functions and local infrastructure.

We defended the company, and were successful in settling the matter at a cost to the client amounting to a small fraction of the FTA’s original €50m+ claim.

This was an important initiative for the Swiss banks as they were facing criminal liabilities in the US and fines of upwards of several hundreds of millions of dollars.

Along with the firm's dispute resolution group, our team worked in Switzerland and the US to identify customers with US tax obligations, determine whether they had complied with those obligations and, where they had not, help them comply with US tax laws in order to obtain the best terms under the US Department of Justice’s settlement programme.