Income Taxation of Derivatives and other Financial Instruments – Economic Substance versus Legal Form, A study focusing on Swedish non-financial companies

University dissertation from Jönköping International Business School

Abstract: Popular Abstract in Swedish From an economic viewpoint, derivatives and credit-extension instruments are the basic building blocks of all financial instruments. By structuring these building blocks in various combinations, it is possible to attain the economic substance of any conventional financial instrument – regular shares or bonds, as well as more complex financial instruments such as contingent debt instruments. The legal form of financial instrument in the Swedish income tax legislation is not systematically based on the instrument’s economic substance. This creates situations in which the payoff from a certain economic substance is taxed arbitrarily. The payoff from a financial instrument is not always taxed similar to the net payoff from its building blocks, a situation that provides tax arbitrage opportunities within the Swedish income tax system. The study presented in this book addresses the Swedish income tax treatment of derivatives and other financial instruments held by non-financial companies. Special emphasis is given to the income tax treatment of and tax arbitrage opportunities related to hybrid financial instruments and synthetic instruments. Possible ways of dealing with financial instruments used for hedging the business risks of non-financial companies are also discussed. In addition, the book presents methods for improving the tax treatment of financial instruments and preventing existing tax arbitrage opportunities related to them.