Ikke mulig med skattefri fisjon/fusjon for fiskeri?

14 May 2012

  Skattemyndighetene mener at kvoteverdier tas ut av selskapene når vedtak om strukturkvoter er fattet av fiskeridirektoratet. Det betyr full beskatning av selgerselskapet. Det er ikke akseptert at vanlige metoder […]

 

Skattemyndighetene mener at kvoteverdier tas ut av selskapene når vedtak om strukturkvoter er fattet av fiskeridirektoratet. Det betyr full beskatning av selgerselskapet. Det er ikke akseptert at vanlige metoder for skattefritak som fisjon og fusjon kan benyttes innen fiskeri.

Siden strukturkvoteforskriften ble satt i kraft i 2006 har det versert en rekke saker der skattemyndighetene har utfordret fiskeriselskapene i måten de har gjennomført restruktureringen i selskapsregnskapet. Ved selskapsrettslig fisjon (deling) og fusjon (sammenslåing).

I en nylig avsagt tingrettsdom fikk Skatt vest medhold i at 8 kjøpere av etringnotselskap ikke kunne foreta en skattefri fisjon av selskapet som eide fartøy og kvoter. Det bærende argument i saken var at man ikke kunne fisjonere aksjeselskapet fordi man allerede hadde fått et vedtak fra Fiskeridirektoratet med samtykke til strukturering. Kvotene var dermed tatt ut før fisjonen ble gjennomført.

Det som skattyter trodde var en skattefri fisjon der kjøper overtok selgers skatteposisjoner (lavt avskrivningsgrunnlag) ble med dette et skattepliktig uttak av fulle verdier til full og umiddelbar beskatning. Skattelovens system ved ulovlige uttak er at kjøper i tillegg skal beskattes for utbyttet av denne transaksjonen. Det betyr 28 % skatt både på selger og kjøper. Siden kjøper hadde ervervet alle aksjene i selgerselskapet fikk kjøper hele skatteregningen. Selv Skatt vest synes dette ble litt voldsomt og innrømmet økt avskrivningsfradrag for kjøper, slik at nettoeffekten ble litt mindre. Som en tommelfingerregel kan man si at skatten samlet utgjør ca 40 % av kvoteverdien i disse sakene. Da har vi ikke tatt med eventuell tilleggsskatt, men det er ikke benyttet i disse sakene.

Vi er riktignok engasjert om advokat i den konkrete saken, men vil i dette innlegget ikke rette søkelyset på selve dommen som er anket til Gulating og forventes tatt opp høsten 2012. Vi er opptatt av at næringer som krever en tillatelse til å gjennomføre overføring av kvoter (eller andre tillatelser, konsesjoner eller lignende) nå har blitt utfordret og retten har uttalt seg temmelig kritisk til at slike offentligrettslige tillatelser overhodet kan overføres ved privatrettslige disposisjoner som en fisjon eller fusjon er. Dersom dette resultatet blir stående har alle fisjoner og fusjoner innen fiskeri, oppdrett, kraftselskap og lignende næringer gjort seg skyldig i unngåelse av beskatning. Konsekvensene blir derfor svært  store om dommen skal tas på ordet

Fisjonsnekt for fiskeri.

Det betyr i så fall også at det som er helt vanlig for andre næringer, nemlig å kunne overføre uten umiddelbar beskatning til andre selskap, innad i konsern etc., blir umuliggjort innen disse næringene. Saken bør derfor få politiske konsekvenser slik vi ser det. Det er et sluttresultat som vil stanse en rekke transaksjoner som er ønsket av borgerne, av fiskerimyndighetene og ikke minst av storsamfunnet. Det er viktig at næringslivet kan ha slike ordninger. Det har ikke noe med unndragelse av skatt å gjøre. Det skjer til det vi kaller skattemessig kontinuitet. Altså overføres det overdragende selskaps skattemessige inngangsverdi til overtaker uten noen endring.

Hensynet til forutberegnelighet har også blitt alvorlig kvestet i disse sakene innen ringnot siden skattyterne bad om forhåndsuttalelse fra Skattetaten og fikk grønt lys allerede i desember 2005. Fem år etter ombestemte etaten seg og krever disse sakene overprøvd av retten. Vi har ikke tro på at tingrettens vurdering er korrekt anvendelse av jussen, men den skade behandlingen av disse sakene allerede har påført næringen er svært alvorlig og fortjener et etterspill.

Om forfatteren

Ulf Sørdal
Ulf Sørdal Ulf H. Sørdal har lang erfaring med fiskeri og oppdrett. Han har arbeidet med skatte- og selskapsrettslige spørsmål og vært involvert i en rekke prinsippsaker for næringene over de siste 20 år. Han har deltatt i en rekke transaksjoner og konsolidering av både oppdrett, industri og fiskeri gjennom både juridisk arbeid og praktisk forretningsutvikling. Han har og har hatt en rekke styreverv.

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