Tax Law

Since it was established in the 1940s Plesner's tax law department has been market-leading when it comes to litigation. We conduct the biggest and most complex cases; starting with the first proceedings involving the Danish tax authorities to the Danish National Tax Tribunal then the courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union, if necessary.

Our track record is unique. No other Danish law firm has been as successful as Plesner in so many important tax cases. Many of the cases are test cases and subsequently result in the reopening of corresponding cases as well as statutory amendments or changes in administrative practice. Through the years Plesner has greatly influenced legislative developments.

The tax publication International Tax Review has named Plesner "Danish Tax Firm of the Year" eigth times since 2009.

Our method - quality of the highest standard

In complex tax cases decisive arguments do not grow on trees. To us, tax litigation is a creative process in which it is necessary to think differently. The solution is often found in similar disputes in other legal fields. Tax litigation therefore also requires a great deal of knowledge about legal fields other than tax law. We focus on the details but keep a broad perspective.

Advisory services are a matter of trust. We speak our minds. We take nothing for granted and review all relevant issues, and we challenge conventional ways of thinking.

A number of strategic choices must continuously be made in any tax case. The right advice about each choice can be crucial for the final outcome of the case.

To conduct and be successful in a tax case requires first of all considerable litigation experience. Plesner has the biggest and most complete team of highly specialised tax litigators at all levels. The sharing of knowledge provides the foundation of our expertise.

In no other legal field is the difference between being right and being proven right as great as in tax law. Only the best counter-strategy will suffice when the opposing party is the Danish State and its inexhaustible resources.

Plesner's documented experience and results provide the best basis also for being proven right.

When Plesner has accepted a tax case, the case will benefit from the reputation enjoyed by Plesner, not only with the Danish tax authorities but also with the courts, which means that Plesner's arguments will be taken seriously. 

Our way of working - team work

We will set up a team to handle each case. In this way we pool necessary resources and experience. We make a point of actively involving our partners at all stages of the process.

In our experience, team work produces the best results, which means that we are also very happy to work with your day-to-day tax advisor.

Pending cases

At the moment we are working on a number of big cases, including transfer pricing cases, the so-called beneficial owner cases about the withholding of dividend tax and tax on interest, cases about the right to deduct losses suffered by foreign subsidiaries, cases about payroll tax in the financial sector, cases about payments to pension funds being exempt from VAT and cases about payment transactions being exempt from VAT.

See also EU tax litigation

Highlights

  • The Phoenix-group - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court that cross-border intra-group mergers have retroactive effect for tax purposes to the accounting date of the merger
  • Masco Denmark/Damixa - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union in a case of general public importance about whether Danish tax law on taxation of intra-group interest  is in conflict with the Treaty on European Union
  • Hoist Group - taxpayer's request for the reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling was allowed by the Danish Eastern High Court after the final hearing in spite of the objections of the Danish Ministry of Taxation. The case, which is of great public importance, is about the interpretation of the EU Customs Tariff and the outcome may be that EU law is in conflict with international law
  • Ekspres Bank - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that data processing services supplied by an English company are not subject to VAT as the services are covered by the VAT exemption for payments and transfers
  • Weber-Stephen Nordic ApS - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in a case of general public importance about tax on PVC. The Supreme Court upheld that fitted grill covers were not "tarpaulins" subject to tax
  • Spar Nord Bank A/S (formerly Sparbank A/S) - successful before the Danish Western High Court in that the bank's discretionary allocation of payroll costs on taxable and non-taxable activities based on the breakdown of turnover under section 38 of the Danish VAT Act could not be set aside as the Danish Customs and Tax Administration had not proved that the Administration's estimate was more correct than the bank's
  • VAT carousel fraud - the Supreme Court found in favour of the defendant in an action for damages of general public importance instituted by the Danish Ministry of Taxation against the management of a company that had been used by a trusted employee for participation in fraud-related trading
  • Seven upper secondary schools in the City of Aarhus -  successful before the Danish Western High Court in that service charges cannot be levied on properties owned by upper secondary schools
  • Takeda - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that fees paid to banks handling the company's corporate bond issue are deductible as borrowing costs
  • Shell - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that hydrocarbon tax is not to be levied on interest income
  • ATP PensionService and PensionDanmark - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Danish Eastern High Court (settlement in court) in that pension funds can be investment funds and that the company's payments to the pension funds are exempt from VAT as administration of investment funds or as payments relating to payment transactions
  • Nordea - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Danish Eastern High Court in that the Danish rules on retaxation of foreign branches' losses are in conflict with the right of establishment
  • G4S - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that transfers between German subsidiaries under the special rules on Organschaft do not result in an increase in Danish income subject to joint taxation
  • Recombined Dairy System (the Fonterra group) - successful in a case against the European Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union in that the company was entitled to a refund of duty in connection with the import of dairy products
  • Danfoss A/S - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Danish Western High Court in that the company could raise a direct claim against the Danish tax authorities for the repayment of a tax contrary to the Directive that an oil supplier had levied and paid to the Danish tax authorities
  • Technical University of Denmark - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in that the Technical University of Denmark is a government institution under the Danish Act on Registration Tax and thus exempt from paying the registration fees for vehicles
  • Ernst & Young - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that damages paid in asset-stripping lawsuits can be deductible as an operating expense
  • Novo Nordisk A/S - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in that an adjustment was to be made both at the end and at the beginning of the income year in connection with an inventory change
  • Odense Staalskibsværft A/S - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in that the conditions for the repayment of tax on energy consumption for the heating of paint premises had been fulfilled
  • ISS A/S - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in the first beneficial owner case about withholding of tax on interest. Tax on interest was not to be withheld
  • ISS A/S - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in the first beneficial owner case about withholding of dividend tax. Dividend tax was not to be withheld
  • Aarhus Business College - successful before the Danish Western High Court in that the college's courses are subject to VAT
  • Nykredit - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in that a Danish mortgage credit institution was not engaged in trade when purchasing and selling shares
  • Aarhus University - successful before the Danish Western High Court in a case about the payment of interest on claims for the repayment of energy tax
  • Danfoss A/S - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Danish Western High Court (settlement in court) in that the company may deduct costs relating to the provision of meals at meetings to employees and customers (canteen VAT)
  • Jyske Bank Finans - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in a case involving factoring payments being subject to VAT
  • Brightpoint Europe A/S - successful before the Danish High Court in that it was possible to deduct VAT in connection with the purchase of mobile phones from abroad where VAT had originally been paid and where there had been VAT fraud upstream
  • Topdanmark - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that a life insurance company did not become liable for the tax on the return from the insurance portfolio in connection with transferring the total life insurance portfolio and ceasing to operate as a life insurance company
  • Industri Udvikling A/S - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in that expenses relating to asset management were deductible operating costs for a venture company
  • A pharmaceutical company - successful before the Danish National Tax Tribunal in the first transfer pricing case. There was no basis for reducing the purchase price of a medicinal product agreed between the company and a subsidiary
  • Danish Insurance Association (DIA) acting for Taksatorringen - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that Taksatorringen, which makes vehicle damage assessments on behalf of its members, was not to pay VAT on its services
  • Nordania Finans A/S - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Danish Supreme Court in that a leasing company could include the turnover from the sales of leased assets after the termination of the leasing agreements when calculating the pro rata VAT deduction
  • Danske Bank (as a non-party intervener) - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Danish Western High Court in that a leasing company is entitled to apply the rules regarding VAT on used goods
  • Mols-Linien A/S - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that a claim for VAT had become barred by limitation under the rules of the 1908 Act on five-year time limitation
  • Unomedical A/S - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that there was a right to deduct legal and auditor fees under the then section 8J of the Danish Tax Assessment Act
  • Danfoss A/S - successful before the Danish High Court in that the tariffing of cartridge pressure switches was correct
  • ECCO - successful before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Danish Western High Court in that the company had made the correct tariffing of footwear
  • Technical University of Denmark - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in a case involving deadlines for reopening cases about VAT liability in connection with the calculation on account of partial deductibility
  • Deloitte (as a non-party intervener) - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in the so-called "lift case" (the Finwill case) in which it was established that a capital increase and a capital reduction could not be compared to the sale of shares (the reality principle, in Danish: realitetsgrundsætningen)
  • Codan - successful before the Danish Eastern High Court in that the insurers were not liable to pay tax on a salary cut agreed with Codan in return for the cover of a number of business costs. It meant that there was no duty to deduct tax
  • Municipality of Aalborg - successful before the Danish Western High Court in that there was no statutory authority to claim an electricity charge on energy consumption for the heating of transformer stations
  • Over-Hold ApS (the Bonnier group) - successful before the Danish High Court in that the loss of an acquired loss-making company could be carried forward for set off against subsequent interest income (the reality principle, in Danish: realitetsgrundsætningen)
  • Coloplast A/S, Novo Nordisk A/S and FIH A/S - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that a loss resulting from the issue of employee shares at a favourable price is deductible as an operating expense
  • Tage Sønder - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that an executive officer who had taken out a loan to shareholders and used such funds to purchase short-dated bonds was not to pay tax on the gain on the drawn bonds
  • Nordsøværftet A/S - successful before the Danish Supreme Court in that a shipyard could provide for ordinary depreciation (as an operating expense) on its grant to the establishment of a new lock in Hvide Sande, Denmark

 

Ratings

  • Plesner is the only Danish law firm in tier 1 regarding both "General corporate tax" and "Tax controversy".

    "Plesner is widely regarded as the leading Danish law firm for all areas of tax law, including tax litigation" (2019)

  • Highly regarded team experienced in direct and indirect tax matters, withholding tax and payroll issues. Also noted for transfer pricing and cross-border mandates, as well as questions of general public importance. Clients include those working in the banking, energy and insurance sectors. Hugely renowned in tax litigation and contentious matters, frequently acting on tax cases in both the ECJ and the Danish Supreme Court. Regularly assists clients with the tax aspects of transactions, including M&A and capital markets matters.

    "They have shown tremendous experience in the area and offer experience with other situations that can be of benefit to our company. They have done a great job guiding us through a difficult process"

    "They are skilled in litigation and have knowledge of difficult tax matters" (2019)
  • Within Tax, Plesner is a first tier firm.

    "Plesner runs the gamut of tax services for clients" (2019) 

  • Hugely renowned in tax litigation and contentious matters, the firm frequently acts on tax cases in both the ECJ and the Danish Supreme Court, securing several recent victories for clients.

    "Plesner is one of the best in the world for tax matters"
    "They are good technically and have very, very good client relations"
    "Outstanding tax record in litigation" (2018)
  • Within Tax, Plesner is a first tier firm.

    "Outstanding" Plesner is "one of the very best firms" in tax planning, tax litigation, and transactional tax matters. (2018)

  • Exceptional team noted for its expertise in M&A transactions, transfer pricing and cross-border structuring issues. Experienced in handling litigation proceedings related to direct and indirect tax, VAT and claw-back rules.

    "Excellent"
    "Solid advice, creativity and wonderful client service" 
    "They are sympathetic, talented and knowledgeable; they have an approach you have to respect"
     (2017)
  • The team is capable of performing the largest and most intricate legal assignments, particularly those with a cross-border element. Plesner's market share of high-profile tax cases and success rate is impeccable. (2016)

  • "The firm has a very strong and respected name with the Danish tax authorities and has a reputation for being able to win the most problematic cases."
    "The firm has a long tradition of being excellent at litigation."
    (2016)
  • Plesner is the leading Danish law firm for tax. … "The quality of service has been excellent, very thoughtful, balanced and candid," said Skip McConeghy of Johnson Controls. "The firm has deep knowledge and isn't afraid to challenge our thinking in a constructive way." (2015)
  • Top-class practice with market-leading ability on tax aspects on cross-border M&A mandates. Particularly recognised for its brilliant VAT and litigation expertise. Represents domestic and international clients in a broad range of matters. … "An absolutely outstanding tax litigation practice." (2014)
  • Clients praise Plesner's "outstanding" 16-lawyer group as being "easily the best in Denmark". (2014)

  • Plesner is the sole law firm in the top tier, and is a well respected practice particularly for its litigation capabilities. … "Plesner is a strong brand on litigation and has won well in significant cases," said one adviser. "Plesner is definitely part of tier one. Big on litigation, by far the strongest there," added another. (2013)
  • This tax litigation giant maintains its privileged position as the representative of the majority of Denmark's largest companies. The team is said to be made up of "the most prominent and successful tax litigators in the country." … Sources say: "In the area of tax litigation this firm is second to none." (2012)
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