(VAT, customs and business policy measures, excise)
The management of indirect taxation on a wider sense (VAT/GST, customs duties, environmental contributions, internal consumption taxes on energy products, excise on alcohol and tobacco, TGAP [Tax on polluting activities]) has become a critical task for companies : tax risks, financial performance, supply-chain optimization, e-business & e-billing strategies, and commercial relationships are in play.
Throughout the world, companies encounter a major challenge in the management of risks linked to VAT both in the European Union and in third-party countries who implement similar taxes (for example, the Goods and Services Tax in Canada, the Sales Tax in the US, the Business Tax in China). VAT is applicable to nearly all cross-border transactions. There are more than 18,000 VAT and GST rates in the world and calculating the VAT can become extremely complicated. Furthermore, it is often the case that several taxation authorities are involved in the same transaction. Lastly the rules of “compliance” vary greatly from one country to the next.
LightHouse LHLF looks at the operations of its clients from a global perspective, taking into account their contractual, logistical and financial imperatives. Our team helps companies to manage the whole of the VAT questions they are faced with : determination of the applicable VAT rate, determination of the place of taxation, assessment of the amount of tax on the transactions, optimization of the domestic and cross-border transactions, etc. Furthermore, our experts develop solutions to ensure the compliance of the invoicing methods (obligatory statements, computerization, etc.) used by the operational staff, as well as to simplify the storage of taxation information and archiving, and to ensure the significant reduction in taxation risks.
To secure the procedures and structures put in place by its clients, LightHouse LHLF also offers to conduct real-time consolidated reporting and mapping tasks of their workflows, providing them with a manageable and precise tool, customized and adapted to their requirements, which will allow them to put in place a real policy for taxation compliance.
LightHouse LHLF offers, with regard to VAT, pioneering and avant-garde solutions which combine the adaptability, availability and reliability needed in the running of business, and which overcome the problems of performance inherent in the accounting and financial management software infrastructures.
Our team consists of Customs law specialists, some of which, furthermore, have customs management experience in Customs authorities, in the largest industrial groups as well as with the Customs brokers.
Our expertise covers all the Customs areas :
• Tariff classification (customs nomenclatures), database review or creation of European or global “products/nomenclatures”, handling the differences in classification between countries, securing nomenclatures (RTC binding tariff information or equivalent) ;
• Customs value : adjustments to the customs value, customs handling of trademark or technology fees, customs management of investments (CAPEX), consistency of the customs value with the transfer pricing policy ;
• Origin rules : preferential origin (free trade agreements), approved exporter status, optimization of the origin management (contractual clauses, accounting separation), non-preferential origin, made in ;
• Customs procedures and regimes : implementation of simplified customs-clearance procedures (PDD, PDU) and particular customs regimes (storage, inward processing relief, etc.) or other customs procedures generating financial gains (suspension of customs duties for example), drafting of operating methods and SOP, and more globally, designing and implementing customs organizations integrated into the company or outsourced, drafting of representation mandates, etc ;
• Export Control : dual-use goods, embargos, war materials ;
• Other international trade regulations : waste movement, medicines, cultural goods, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), etc ;
We provide expertise in the domains which are often ignored by company managers, financial directors or decision makers and we help them to secure and optimize their customs flows, notably at the end of audit tasks, including in the context of approved economic operator status requests(OEA).
Our contributions do not only consist of legal analyses but also of sharing with our clients our customs experience in business to create real added-value in the customs management of the supply chain of our clients.
We also help our clients in the management of audits and customs litigations : assistance during the audit, representation of the client toward the Customs Conciliation and Expertise Commission (CCED), legal disputes, etc.
Commercial policy measures : anti-dumping, subsidies, safeguarding
The global measures for commercial defense (the anti-dumping measures, anti-subsidy measures and safeguard measures) allow the States to recreate a “level playing field” (i.e. an environment in which all the companies are subject to the same rules and have therefore the same competitive abilities) between the domestic goods and the imported goods, by imposing restrictions on unfair imports.
The measure most often used and in first place by the States is the anti-dumping. Dumping consists of the distribution of goods, onto a foreign market, at a price lower than the normal value which corresponds in principle to the price paid for the same goods on the domestic market. Where the practice of dumping causes material damage to the local producers who commercialize the same goods, a compensatory measure can be put in place taking the form of an anti-dumping law.
The second type of commercial defense is the anti-subsidy measure. Such a measure can be put in place by a State when the imported goods have been subsidized by the exporting country and the domestic industry of the importing country suffers material prejudice due to the importing of these subsidized goods.
The third commercial defense category is the safeguard measure. This type of measure is adopted by the State when an imported product is of such great quantity and/or under conditions which causes damage to the domestic producers of similar goods or in direct competition.
LightHouse LHLF has developed solid experience and advanced expertise in commercial defense matters. LightHouse LHLF supports exporters and importers from numerous countries concerned with European anti-dumping or anti-subsidy or safeguard procedures. Our firm also helps European companies facing anti-dumping, anti-subsidy inquiries or safeguard procedures in all four corners of the world, for example in India, China, Argentina, Brazil, etc. The firm helps its clients with the integral management of these procedures, notably to respond to the questionnaires sent by the authorities or to draft observations, as well as when administrations carry out on-site checks, or at hearings.
LightHouse LHLF also provides strategic advice to clients who which to anticipate and prepare for possible commercial defense measures or who wish to manage the consequences of these measures, such as intermediary or final re-examinations, anti-absorption or anti-circumvention inquiries and refund applications.
Concerning commerce with India in particular, the company LightHouse LHLF has developed, over the years, specific expertise which has recently led to the creation of an Indian Desk based in Paris. Ideally located, our Indian Desk guides the European companies exercising activities in India in the management of legal and taxation problems which they encounter in this country and advise our Indian clients on the international challenges surrounding entry into the European market. We work in collaboration with the main Indian law firms to satisfy to the best the specific needs of our clients. Our advice services are provided by professionals who have knowledge and immediate understanding on political, cultural, regulatory, tax and economic questions linked to business with India, which allows us to provide our clients with services of the highest quality.
LightHouse LHLF has solid expertise in company law and supports its clients in the execution of merger and acquisition operations and company restructuring. Other than the management of taxation challenges of these operations (see above Corporate Taxation), our team offers companies top-quality advice in the management of their legal problems linked to this restructuring. In particular, our team helps our clients throughout the legal implementation process for strategic orientation defined beforehand with the company management (coordination of the different departments involved in the local version process i.e. financial, legal, operational management…).
Drafting of contracts and operational documents
LightHouse LHLF supports its clients in the drafting of contracts, national or international, and of internal management documents. The expertise of our team in matters of international trade allows us to understand all the problems linked to transnational operations (taxation, customs). But also, to take into account more specific topics, such as transport, logistics, the supply chain and purchases management. This global approach allows us to consider all the commercial interests of our clients in the documents which we make available to them.
The aim of LightHouse LHLF is to help its clients resolve their disputes using alternative methods such as conciliation and mediation. Nevertheless, if this is not possible, we help our clients in the jurisdictional phase of their dispute, notably in commercial matters.
Direct taxation (corporate income tax and wealth taxation)
Corporate Income Tax
Direct taxation management is currently designated by companies as being one of their major financial challenges. With the development of an international activity, companies have seen their regulatory imperatives, governing their operations and the associated fiscal risks, rise considerably. To enable their clients to carry out international context projects, LightHouse LHLF supports them in the management of all the taxation problems arising from their activities as well as their external growth and restructuring operations.
In direct taxation matters, LightHouse LHLF offers its clients assistance allowing structures and operational procedures to be put in place, not only in accordance with the regulations in force but also in optimal conditions. Our teams cover, in particular, the tracking of taxation aspects regarding cash-flow management, analysis and implementation of taxation optimization programs, development and documenting of transfer pricing policies and the management of problems linked to Research Tax Credit (CIR) (accreditation, CIR optimization requests, etc.).
LightHouse LHLF also has solid expertise in company law and supports companies in the management of taxation challenges surrounding the mergers and acquisitions operations and the company restructuring. From handling due diligence, to the implementation of taxation strategies during acquisition projects, to the choice of financial procedures, and to the determination of the structure and/or the optimal legal location, LightHouse LHLF provides its clients with consulting services of the highest quality. Our team also covers the analysis of possible later transfer procedures and their taxation consequences.
LightHouse LHLF also offers support services as part of taxation audits and disputes in matters of direct taxation. Our experts cover, in collaboration with the client, the contacts with the tax authorities (discussions on technical positions, justification and defense of the management decisions exercised by the company, position exchanges). With a strong background both in the industry and with the tax authorities, our team helps its clients from the determination of the defense strategy right along the audit, making the best of the pre-dispute stages and, if necessary, litigation.
Because patrimonial taxation is constantly changing and private individuals are increasingly confronted with the complexity of international or even national situations, LightHouse LHLF supports the individual (company managers, families…) in all the personal taxation problems which they may encounter (income tax, ISF [solidarity tax on wealth], transfer tax, VAT…). LHLF has expertise in patrimonial taxation and offers its clients support in the structuring of their property, in the implementation of secure systems for their assets (separation of operating assets from their property assets…), in the optimization of their obligations linked to the ISF (Dutreil pact…), and in the execution of their relocation projects. The firm also offers assistance with the regularization dossiers for assets held abroad and in the implementation of remuneration optimization plans in an international context (stock-options program, split-payroll implementation…).
Property and real-estate taxation
Thanks to strong links with notaries, LightHouse LHLF has also developed expertise in property taxation (patrimonial and operational aspects) : the firm advises its clients (individuals or companies) on optimization strategies and tax problems specific to the real-estate asset holding (tax on current income, transfer value-added, ISF, transfer tax, VAT…). Our team is also able to implement, in a legal context, the chosen optimization plans (SCI creation, separation of property, etc).