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Finland: Dividend withholding tax

On 25 September 2013, the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled that interest must be paid when refunding Dividend Withholding Tax (DWT) that has been levied incorrectly from dividends intended for foreign entities. This was already the case for DWT levied from dividends intended for Finnish entities.

The SAC ruled that based on EU law, a refund to a foreign entity cannot be treated less favourably than a refund to a Finnish entity. Therefore, based on the principle of equivalence, the refund of incorrectly levied DWT to a foreign entity must also include interest.

The SAC referred the case back to the Finnish Tax Authorities in order for them to determine the amount of interest due in this specific case. After the SAC ruling, the Finnish Tax Authorities published their general policy that states: any taxpayer (private individuals and entities) located in an EU/EEA country that is entitled to a DWT refund will also be entitled to the interest which is due by the Finnish Tax Authorities.

Taxpayers with pending cases before the Finnish Tax Authorities will receive the interest due automatically. However, taxpayers whose cases have already been closed and believe that they are entitled to interest, should file for appeal within the boundaries of the statute of limitations. The Finnish Tax Authorities have announced delays in the processing of the DWT refund claims as they must first develop a general policy on how the interest due will be calculated.

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