VAT and Share Issues
The European Court decision in Securenta has again cast doubt on the recovery of VAT on share issues and focused attention on the VAT position of holding companies.
Securenta was a German investment company dealing in land, acquiring financial holdings in other businesses and managing various other investments. It raised the necessary capital partly by means of an issue of shares. The ECJ ruled that VAT on the costs connected with the issue of shares was allowed only to the extent that the expenditure was attributable to economic activities. Non-economic activities where there was no right to deduct presumably included much of the investment activity undertaken such as acquiring, holding and selling shares and bonds.
Guidance on how HMRC will apply this decision is still awaited. Holding companies often incur significant legal and accountancy costs when issuing new shares and this case may make it more difficult to recover all of the VAT involved. Wherever possible holding companies should be part of a VAT group with their trading subsidiaries as this hopefully should minimise the impact of the decision.
Date: 25th April, 2008
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