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Evolution of the Beneficial Ownership Concept: More Than Half of Century of Uncertainty and What History Can Tell Us

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The beneficial ownership concept has constituted for more than half a century one of the most fundamental and debated issues in the application of tax treaties. This article goes back to routes of this term explaining the reason of its original inclusion in the OECD Model Tax Convention and why ultimately such inclusion may have not been necessary. Then it analyses the historical developments of beneficial ownership in the OECD Model Tax Convention. For that purpose it considers different interpretations adopted by jurisdictions (particularly in China) and local courts delving into some of the landmark cases on the subject. Finally it provides a detailed analysis of the current meaning of beneficial ownership considering the most recent developments in the Commentary to the OECD Model Tax Convention.

Bruno da Silva, Ph.D. in International Tax Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Tax lawyer at Loyens & Loeff N.V.; Lecturer, University of Amsterdam/Amsterdam Centre for Tax Law, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Contact:

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