A growing number of family businesses are coming up for sale these days. This is partly due to the favourable investment environment, and partly to the difficulties to pass on businesses to the next generation. A critical aspect in such deals is: what kind of tax implications the sale will have for the sellers. While, in some cases, the sale can be made tax-free, at other times a private individual divesting his or her share in the business can be faced with a tax liability of up to 34.5%.
Due to a seemingly trivial error, a series of NAV decisions are being overturned in court: a good many of them don’t contain the proper signature. This procedural error, however, could be useful not only in ongoing lawsuits, but possibly in past, closed procedures too – hundreds of businesses could claw back the tax forints they thought were lost for good.
Since the start of the year there have been new laws in place regulating tax audits and tax lawsuits. The stakes are pretty high: the National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV) conducts almost 30,000 audits annually, assessing tax deficiencies of about HUF 500 billion and imposing fines of almost the same amount. Therefore it is important to know the rights taxpayers have under the new rules and the most efficient ways to fight NAV.
New laws taking effect on 1 January next year will transform the tax audit procedure and the way tax lawsuits unfold. While some of the amendments are business-friendly, they also conceal a number of traps that are clearly detrimental to taxpayers’ interests. For example, the rights of taxpayers to defend themselves against the tax authority, and to make use of experts, will be compromised.
Under current practice the Tax and Customs Administration (NAV) fines taxpayers that are caught with a VAT shortfall even if the budget has sustained no losses. An opinion recently published by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice could spell the end for this extremely unfair and much criticised procedure.
While Hungary has long been a preferred place in international tax planning, with a flat 9% corporate tax rate recently introduced, the country has arrived to the forefront of the competition. Adding also the absence of withholding taxes, the participation exemption both on portfolio holdings and intellectual properties, coupled with all benefits of an EU–compliant tax legislation, Hungary is destined to become a popular place for tax experts.
The law is constantly in flux. While many people may find this intimidating, for us it’s precisely what makes it so exciting. We’d like to share this attitude with businesspeople and managers, and with those who just have an interest in business law, in the form of a regularly updated blog that discusses the latest tax law and commercial law issues in an accessible style. Feel free to send your questions and suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover to firstname.lastname@example.org.