European Anti-tax avoidance directive 3 (ATAD 3)

Understanding what it means for your entities and how you can prepare.

At Vistra, our goal is to help clients set up, grow, and maintain their legal entities in line with good corporate practices.

As your service provider, we are committed to support you, our client, to ensure that your legal entities are in the best possible regulatory shape.

In light of this, we want to ensure that you have all of the information to prepare ahead of the ATAD 3 coming into force.

To talk to our team about ATAD 3 and your needs, please complete the form below, and your Vistra account manager will respond to you within 48 working hours.

What is ATAD 3 and what does it mean for your entities?

ATAD 3’s primary objective is to mitigate the misuse of shell-companies with limited or no economic activity, in order to limit the tax advantages they may be benefiting from. The Directive is targeted to come into force on the 1 January 2024, potentially 1 January 2025, although this date is still to be confirmed and may be postponed. The current draft Directive is suggesting that it will look back at the previous two tax years, meaning therefore that if ATAD 3 will come into effect on 1 January 2024, it will cover activity from 1 January 2022 onwards.

Whilst the Directive is still in draft form and is therefore still subject to change, there are good indications of what will be covered at a high level. As it stands, the draft Directive is looking at any legal entity that operates within the EU and is benefiting from favourable tax advantages, to ensure that they have a level of real economic activity.

Minimum substance tests – the three gateways

To understand if an entity is deemed to have substance under ATAD 3, the European Commission has set out three gateways. Any company passing all three gateways and not falling under an exemption shall be presumed to not have sufficient minimum substance and therefore qualifies as a shell for the purposes of the Directive. (please note that expected thresholds may still be subject to change). These gateways are as follows:

More than 80% of income in the two past tax years has not originated from the entity’s direct business activity, or more than 80% of the assets are from real estate, other than high value private property or shares;
Over 65% of that income is realised via cross-border transactions, or an entity engages in cross-border activities for more than 55% based on the book value of certain assets; and
The administration of day-to-day operations and the decision-making on significant functions have been outsourced to an entity that is not an associated enterprise within the same jurisdiction during the preceding two tax years.

If an entity passes through all three of these gateways, then they must report on the proposed substance test and will have to provide evidence in their tax returns that show they have: 

  • Their own premises or premises for their exclusive use; 
  • At least one own and active bank account in a Member State; and 
  • At least one qualified, authorised and independent director that is resident for tax purposes close to the undertaking and dedicated to its activity, or that they have full-time employees who are tax resident in the entity’s Member State (or at no great distance from that Member State). 

What are the implications of being a shell under ATAD 3?

If an entity is found to have limited substance after passing through the three gateways laid out within ATAD 3, it could result in the entity not being eligible for certain double tax treaties, etc.

Tax consequences for an entity deemed as a shell could based on the currently proposed text of the Directive be one of the following:

  • Loss of the benefit of the double tax treaties and EU directives' provisions; 
  • Non-availability of certificate of residence; and 
  • Potential re-allocation of taxing rights within the structure

How you can prepare

Vistra’s European Head of Tax and Regulatory, Gaetan Grein, has shared his thoughts on how to prepare for the implementation of this Directive, and has given suggested actions that companies should look to take now.
ATAD3 -  how you can prepare

Meet the team

Get in touch

If you want to discuss the impact that ATAD 3 could potentially have on your entity, then please get in touch and someone from the Vistra team will be in touch.