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Dividend arbitrage: withholding tax refund claims

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Actions by tax authorities against perceived tax fraud and avoidance in the context of dividend arbitrage arrangements have become increasingly focused and intrusive; so, in particular, have claims for refunds of withholding tax on dividends (WHT claims). German authorities have initiated far reaching civil and criminal investigations, in many instances targeting UK institutions with the assistance of HMRC. Denmark has introduced a GAAR which restricts the availability of benefits under double tax treaties. Recent Swiss court proceedings have focused on the meaning of ‘beneficial ownership’ in the context of WHT claims. These developments have created significant confusion and uncertainty for taxpayers.

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