Full retrett i Lafjord saken!

19 Dec 2013

Staten fikk medhold i at Gulatings dom skal behandles av Høyesterett. Nå trekker den likevel saken og gir selgerne og kjøperne av aksjen i Lafjord Fiskeriselskap fullt medhold. En skikkelig […]

Staten fikk medhold i at Gulatings dom skal behandles av Høyesterett. Nå trekker den likevel saken og gir selgerne og kjøperne av aksjen i Lafjord Fiskeriselskap fullt medhold. En skikkelig julehilsen fra Staten for en gangs skyld!

Det oppgis ingen grunn til at Staten nå trekker saken og betaler fulle sakskostnader til de berørte. Det må likevel antas at det er følgende forhold som har ført til denne pinlige retrett:

Staten har endret syn helt siden starten i 2008. Det ble først hevdet en rekke grunnlag for beskatning, deretter ble det innskrenket til å være ”uttaksbeskatning” der kjøper skulle betale selgers skatt. Dette ble av oss betraktet som kreativ anvendelse av skattereglene og veldig prinsippiell ny måte å behandle slike saker på.

Tidligere i år kom Finansdepartementet med en uttalelse som i klartekst betød at Skattedirektoratet tok feil da de høsten 2012 nektet fiskeriselskap å fisjonere og fusjonere skattefritt slik som alle andre næringer kan. Denne uttalelsen la Gulating til grunn i sin vurdering som nå viser seg å være helt korrekt. Stor takk til lagmannsretten som satte denne saken på plass!

Det er nå tatt inn i skatteetatens egne instrukser at fisjoner og fusjoner også kan skje i fiskeriselskap uten beskatning. Det er imidlertid (sikkert av lojalitet til Lafjord-saken som verserte) tatt inn et unntak for saker med ”strukturkvoter”. Hvorfor dette unntaket skal være der forstår vi ikke og er heller ikke grunngitt i instruksen. Det anføres av Staten i anken til HR at ”strukturkvoter er noe annet”. 

Voldstad saken satte fart i debatten om strukturkvoter og grunnkvoter. Når Staten i denne saken kom til at en endring fra tidsubegrenset strukturkvote til tidsbegrenset ikke er grunnlovsstridig tilbakevirkning, så var det blant annet på grunn av at strukturkvoter bare er noe midlertidig som uansett skal gå tilbake til grunnkvotene ved utløpet av tidshorisonten. Det blir en pedagogisk utfordrende sak å fortelle Høyesterett hvorfor disse strukturkvotene skal behandles skattemessig adskilt fra grunnkvoter. Jeg tror personlig at Staten til slutt skjønte hvor svak sak de hadde, men vi får kanskje en endring i lignings-ABC, eller til og med en pressemelding?

Det er ikke besluttet noe konkret om hva som skal skje med de andre sakene som er stanset pga Lafjord-saken. Vi ser imidlertid ikke noen grunn til at disse skal fortsette og venter nå en rekke brev fra Skatt vest, -midt og –nord om henleggelser. Fra Skatt Nord venter vi også en uforbeholden unnskyldning for at de for to år siden kom med en pressemelding som koblet disse skattesakene sammen med utsagn om ”organisert kriminalitet”. Det ligger nå an til full oppreisning.

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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