ECJ starts cross-border pensions tax hearing

FINLAND/EUROPE – The first cross-border pensions court case to be considered by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) following the publication of EC internal market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein’s communication on tax for cross-border pension arrangements, had its first hearing before the ECJ today.

The case, referring to German born Rolf Dieter Danner was referred to the ECJ by the Administrative Court in the Finnish city of Kuopio (Kuopion Hallinto-oikeus).

The Finnish case examines whether the restriction in Finnish income tax law (Tuloverolaki) to deduct for tax purposes pension insurance contributions payable from Finland to a foreign institution is contrary to an article of the EC treaty.

Bolkestein himself commented on the case at a conference last year: “The basis is discrimination against a particular person who wanted to contribute to a non-Finnish pension fund and was not getting the same treatment as if they wanted to contribute to a Finnish scheme.”

In the preview of the hearing, the ECJ notes that the case hinges on the interpretation of community law, in particular Article 59 and Articles 6, 60, 73b, 73d and 92 of the EC Treaty (now Article 49 EC and Articles 12, 50, 56, 58 and 87 EC), with respect to national legislation on income tax , deductibility of certain contributions paid towards a retirement pension and restrictions on the deductibility of contributions paid to institutions of other Member States .

A similar case in Denmark, cited by Bolkestein is still being dealt with by the Commission and has not yet reached the stage of going to the ECJ.

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