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European pensions tax case could last two years

FINLAND/EUROPE – The first court case to be heard by the European Court of Justice following the publication of EC internal market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein’s communication on tax for cross-border pension arrangements, could take up to two years to be resolved, according to the Finnish courts.

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

A similar case in Denmark, cited recently by Bolkestein at a press conference in The Hague is still being dealt with by the Commission and has not yet reached the stage of going to the ECJ.

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.

Speaking at the conference in The Hague, Frits Bolkestein, noted: “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.”

The reference for the case C-136/00 was made to ECJ last year, but according to Risto Hakkarainen at the Kuopio Administrative Court, it could be some time before any action is taken:
“The case is over there for referral, it was sent to them last year, and it often takes a year or even two to get a reply.”

The clauses referred to in the appeal are paragraph 96(9) of the Finnish income tax law, and article 59 of the EC Treaty (now article 49 EC) and Articles 6, 60, 73b, 73d and 92 of the EC treaty, which are now Articles 12, 50, 56, 58 and 87 EC.

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