Gaver - kompensationsbeløb - ophævelse af samliv - ugifte

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Dokumentets dato01 Feb 2012
Dato for udgivelse14 Feb 2012 13:25
SKM-nummerSKM2012.105.HR
MyndighedHøjesteret
Sagsnummer2. afdeling, 94/2010
Dokument typeDom
EmneordGave, ophævelse, samlevende, kompensation
Resumé

  
I forbindelse med en samlivsophævelse havde den ene part fået en gave på 6 mio. kr. fra den anden meget velstående, tidligere samlever. Sagen vedrørte i første omgang, om beløbet var skattefrit som et kompensationskrav udbetalt i anledning af samlivsophævelsen eller var en skattepligtig gave.

Højesteret fandt under henvisning til Højesterets tidligere praksis bl.a. UfR 1985, side 607/2, at der ved ophøret af et flerårligt, fast samlivsforhold kan tillægges en part, der gennem deltagelse i parternes fælles udgifter - eller på anden måde - i væsentlig grad har bidraget til, at en anden part har kunnet skabe eller bevare en ikke ubetydelig formue, et beløb, hvis størrelse fastsættes skønsmæssigt under hensyntagen til bl.a. samlivets varighed og parternes økonomiske forhold ved dets ophør. Dette krav opfyldte skatteyderen ikke, og Højesteret ville ikke udvide tidligere praksis.

Højesteret fandt derfor, at overførslen var en gave, ligesom Højesteret fandt, at gaven var ydet efter samlivsophævelsen. Gaven var dermed ikke omfattet af statsskattelovens § 5, stk. 1, litra b, men derimod § 4, litra c. Under sagen havde skatteyderen gjort gældende, at en gave ydet efter samlivsophævelse også skulle være skattefri, idet en sådan gave mellem ægtefælle ved samlivsophævelse var skattefri. Dette synspunkt fulgte Højesteret ikke.

Skatteyderen gjorde gældende, at når hun blev behandlet ringere end ægtefæller ved samlivets ophør, var dette en krænkelse af hendes menneskerettigheder efter Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedskonventions art. 14 sammenholdt med art. 8 eller art. 1 i tillægsprotokol 1. Højesteret fandt ikke, at Menneskerettighedskonventionen var til hinder for, at ugifte samlevende i økonomisk henseende behandles anderledes end ægtefæller ved samlivsophævelse.
  

Reference(r)Statsskatteloven § 4, stk. 1, litra c
Statsskatteloven § 5, stk. 1, litra b
Boafgiftsloven § 22
  
HenvisningLigningsvejledningen 2012-1 E.B.4.2.1
HenvisningDen juridiske vejledning 2012-1 C.A.6.1.2.1

Parter

A
(advokat Poul Bostrup, beskikket)

mod

Skatteministeriet
(Kammeradvokaten ved advokat Steffen Sværke)

Afsagt af højesteretsdommerne

Peter Blok, Lene Pagter Kristensen, Marianne Højgaard Pedersen, Michael Rekling og Oliver Talevski.

Sagens baggrund og parternes påstande

I tidligere instanser er afsagt dom af byretten den 26. februar 2009 og af Østre Landsrets 11. afdeling den 14. december 2009.

Påstande

Appellanten, A, har nedlagt påstand om, at hendes ansatte indkomst for 2003 yderligere nedsættes med 6 mio. kr., subsidiært et mindre beløb. Mere subsidiært har hun nedlagt påstand om, at sagen hjemvises til ligningsmyndighederne.

Indstævnte, Skatteministeriet, har påstået stadfæstelse.

Supplerende sagsfremstilling

Der er fremlagt korrespondance mellem A og BA fra perioden efter den 22. april 2003, hvor hun forlod deres fælles bolig sammen med børnene. I en udateret e-mail skrev A om baggrunden herfor, at hun ikke "kunne fortsætte mit liv sammen med dig". I en e-mail af 30. april 2003 skrev BA, at "Jeg synes også at det nok er det bedste at du finder et eget sted at bo, så må vi jo se tiden an derfra." BA nævnte muligheden for, at parterne atter flyttede sammen i en e-mail af 3. juni 2003 til A. I en e-mail af 17. oktober 2003 til A omtalte BA sin nye kæreste OL.

Den 10. november 2003 underskrev A en købsaftale vedrørende en ejendom med overtagelse den 1. januar 2004.

Anbringender

A har yderligere anført, at beskatning ved ophør af et papirløst samlivsforhold er i strid med Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedskonventions artikel 14, jf. artikel 8 og artikel 1 i tillægsprotokol 1, idet der er tale om en urimelig forskelsbehandling i forhold til beskatning ved ophør af et ægteskab, hvor det økonomiske opgør er skattefrit. Hun har navnlig henvist til Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedsdomstols dom af 19. juli 2005 i sagen P.M. mod UK (sag nr. 6638/03).

Skatteministeriet har heroverfor anført, at de påberåbte bestemmelser i Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedskonvention m.v. ikke er til hinder for, at ugifte samlevende behandles anderledes ved samlivets ophør end ægtefæller, herunder skattemæssigt. Ministeriet har navnlig henvist til Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedsdomstols dom af 27. april 2000 i sagen Joanna Shackell mod UK (sag nr. 45851/99), dom af 29. april 2008 i sagen Burden mod UK (sag nr. 13378/05) og dom af 2. november 2010 i sagen Serife Yigit mod Tyrkiet (sag nr. 3976/05).

De påberåbte domme fra Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedsdomstol

Domstolen anførte i sin dom af 27. april 2000 i sagen Shackell (sag nr. 45851/99) mod UK bl.a.:

"...

However, the Court recalls that Article 14 of the Convention safeguards individuals placed in similar positions from any discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention and Protocols (see the Marckx v Belgium judgment of 13 June 1979, Series A no. 31, p. 5). The applicant in the present case seeks to compare herself to a widow, in other words a woman whose husband, as opposed to partner, has died. The Court recalls that the European Commission of Human Rights held, in a case concerning unmarried cohabitees who sought to compare themselves with a married couple that

"...

these are not analogous situations. Though in some fields, the de facto relationship of cohabitees is now recognised, there still exist differences between married and unmarried couples, in particular, differences in legal status and legal effects. Marriage continues to be characterised by a corpus of rights and obligations which differentiate it markedly from the situation of a man and woman who cohabit

..."

(Lindsay v. the United Kingdom, Comm. Dec. 1.11.86, D.R. 49, p. 181).

The Court notes that that decision of the Commission dates from 1986, that is, over 14 years ago. The Court accepts that there may well now be an increased social acceptance of stable personal relationships outside the traditional notion of marriage. However, marriage remains an institution which is widely accepted as conferring a particular status on those who enter it. The situation of the applicant is therefore not comparable to that of a widow.

In any event, the Court recalls that under its case-law, a difference in treatment is discriminatory for the purposes of Article 14 if it "has no objective and reasonable justification", that is if it does not pursue a "legitimate aim" or if there is not a "reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised" (see, among other authorities, see the Schmidt and Dahlström v. Sweden judgment of 6 February 1976, Series A no. 21, pp. 32-33, § 24, and the Van Raalte v. the Netherlands judgment of 21 February 1997, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1997-I, p. 186, § 39).

Further, the Court reiterates that

"...

States enjoy a certain margin of appreciation in assessing whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a different treatment in law. The scope of the margin of appreciation will vary according to the circumstances, the subject matter and its background

..."

(see the Petrovic v Austria judgment of 27 March 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-II, p. 587, § 38). The Court again notes that marriage remains an institution that is widely accepted as conferring a particular status on those who enter it and, indeed, it is singled out for special treatment under Article 12 of the Convention. The Court considers that the promotion of marriage, by way of limited benefits for surviving spouses, cannot be said to exceed the margin of appreciation afforded to the respondent Government.

..."

I dom af 19. oktober 2005 i sagen P.M. mod UK (sag nr. 6638/03) hedder det bl.a.:

"...

27. The Court notes the Government's arguments that this case is not about paternity/maternity but the married status of the parents. It is true that any person, not married to the mother of the child concerned, would not qualify for tax deductions for maintenance payments made. That said however, it is nonetheless the case that the applicant may claim to be treated differently as an unmarried father than a married father, though both are parents of the child to be maintained and under obligations to pay maintenance. This is not a situation where the applicant seeks to compare himself to a couple living in a subsisting marriage (see, for example, Lindsay v. the United Kingdom, cited above, where married and unmarried couples, taxed differently, were not found in be in a comparable position), but one where the married father has separated or divorced and is also living apart from the child of the family. Other persons, not parents, are not covered by the child support provisions and are generally in a different situation. This applicant differs from a married father only as regards the issue of marital status and may, for the purposes of this application, claim to be in an relevantly similar position.

28. The justification for the difference in treatment relied on by the Government is the special regime of marriage which confers specific rights and obligations on those who choose to join it. The Court recalls that it has in some cases found that differences in treatment on the basis of marital status has had objective and reasonable justification (see, for example, McMichael v the United Kingdom, judgment of 24 February 1995, Series A no. 307-B, § 98, concerning legislation which did not grant automatic parental responsibility to unmarried fathers who inevitably varied in their commitment and interest in, or even knowledge of, their children). It may be noted however that as a general rule unmarried fathers, who have established family life with their children, can claim equal rights of contact and custody with married fathers (see Sahin v. Germany [GC], no. 30943/96, § 94, ECHR 2003-VIII). In the present case, the applicant has been acknowledged as the father and has acted in that role. Given that he has financial obligations towards his daughter, which he has duly fulfilled, the Court perceives no reason for treating him differently from a married father, now divorced and separated from the mother, as regards the tax deductibility of those payments. The purpose of the tax deductions was purportedly to render it easier for married fathers to support a new family; it is not readily apparent why unmarried fathers, who undertook similar new relationships, would not have similar financial commitments equally requiring relief.

29. The Court concludes therefore that there has been a violation of Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in this case.

..."

Storkammeret udtalte i dom af 29. april 2008 i sagen Burden mod UK (sag nr. 13378/05) bl.a.:

"...

63. Moreover, the Grand Chamber notes that it has already held that marriage confers a special status on those who enter into it. The exercise of the right to marry is protected by Article 12 of the Convention and gives rise to social, personal and legal consequences (B. and L. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 34). In Shackell (cited above), the Court found that the situations of married and unmarried heterosexual cohabiting couples were not analogous for the purposes of survivors' benefits, since "marriage remains an institution which is widely accepted as conferring a particular status on those who enter it". The Grand Chamber considers that this view still holds true.

64. Since the coming into force of the Civil Partnership Act in the United Kingdom, a homosexual couple now also has the choice to enter into a legal relationship designed by Parliament to correspond as far as possible to marriage (see paragraphs 16-18 above).

65. As with marriage, the Grand Chamber considers that the legal consequences of civil partnership under the 2004 Act, which couples expressly and deliberately decide to incur, set these types of relationship apart from other forms of co-habitation. Rather than the length or the supportive nature of the relationship, what is determinative is the existence of a public undertaking, carrying with it a body of rights and obligations of a contractual nature. Just as there can be no analogy between married and Civil Partnership Act couples, on one hand, and heterosexual or homosexual couples who choose to live together but not to become husband and wife or civil partners, on the other hand (see Shackell, cited above), the absence of such a legally binding agreement between the applicants renders their relationship of co-habitation, despite its long duration, fundamentally different to that of a married or civil partnership couple. This view is unaffected by the fact that, as noted in paragraph 26 above, Member States have adopted a variety of different rules of succession as between survivors of a marriage, civil partnership and those in a close family relationship and have similarly adopted different policies as regards the grant of inheritance tax exemptions to the various categories of survivor; States, in principle, remaining free to devise different rules in the field of taxation policy.

66. In conclusion, therefore, the Grand Chamber considers that the applicants, as cohabiting sisters, cannot be compared for the purposes of Article 14 to a married or Civil Partnership Act couple. It follows that there has been no discrimination and, therefore, no violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No.1 .

..."

Storkammeret udtalte i dom af 2 november 2010 i sagen Serife Yigit mod Tyrkiet (sag nr. 3976/05) bl.a.:

"...

67. According to the Court's settled case-law, discrimination means treating differently, without an objective and reasonable justification, persons in relevantly similar situations (see D. H. and Others v. the Czech Republic [GC], no. 57325/00, § 175, ECHR 2007-XII). A difference in treatment has no objective and reasonable justification if it does not pursue a legitimate aim or if there is not a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised (see Larkos v. Cyprus [GC], no. 29515/95, § 29, ECHR 1999-I). The provisions of the Convention do not prevent, in principle, Contracting States from introducing general policy schemes by way of legislative measures whereby a certain category or group of individuals is treated differently from others, provided that the difference in treatment which results for the statutory category or group as a whole can be justified under the Convention and its Protocols (see, mutatis mutandis, Zdanoka v. Latvia [GCJ, no. 58278/00, § 112, ECHR 2006-IV).

68. In other words, Article 14 does not prohibit distinctions in treatment which are founded on an objective assessment of essentially different factual circumstances and which, being based on the public interest, strike a fair balance between the protection of the interests of the community and respect for the rights and freedoms safeguarded by the Convention (see Ünal Tekeli v. Turkey, no. 29865/96, § 51, ECHR 2004-X).

69. The right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed under the Convention is also violated when States without an objective and reasonable justification fail to treat differently persons whose situations are significantly different (see Thlimmenos, cited above, § 44).

70. The Contracting States enjoy a certain margin of appreciation in assessing whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a different treatment in law (see Marckx v. Belgium, 13 June 1979, § 33, Series A no. 31; Abdulaziz, Cabales and Balkandali v. the United Kingdom, 28 May 1985, § 72, Series A no. 94; and Stubbings and Others v. the United Kingdom, 22 October 1996, § 72, Reports 1996-IV). That margin is wider when it comes to the adoption by the State of general fiscal, economic or social measures, which are closely linked to the State's financial resources (see Burden v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 13378/05, § 60, ECHR 2008-..., and Petrov v. Bulgaria, no. 15197/02, § 55, 22 May 2008). However, it is ultimately for the Court to decide, in the light of the circumstances of the case in question, whether such measures are compatible with the State's obligations under the Convention and its Protocols (see James and Others v. the United Kingdom, 21 February 1986, § 46, Series A no. 98, and National & Provincial Building Society, Leeds Permanent Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society v. the United Kingdom, 23 October 1997, § 80, Reports 1997-VII).

71 As to the burden of proof in this sphere, the Court has established that once the applicant has shown a difference in treatment, it is for the Government to show that it was justified (see D.H. and Others, cited above, § 177; Timishev v Russia, nos. 55762/00 and 55974/00, § 57, ECHR 2005-XII; and Chassagnou and Others v. France [GC], nos. 25088/94, 28331/95 and 28443/95, §§ 91-92, ECHR 1999-III).

72. With regard to Article 12 of the Convention, the Court has already ruled that marriage is widely accepted as conferring a particular status and particular rights on those who enter it (see Burden, cited above, § 63, and Shackell v. the United Kingdom (dec.), no. 45851/99, 27 April 2000). The protection of marriage constitutes, in principle, an important and legitimate reason which may justify a difference in treatment between married and unmarried couples (see Quintana Zapata v. Spain, Commission decision of 4 March 1998, Decisions and Reports (DR) 92, p. 139). Marriage is characterised by a corpus of rights and obligations that differentiate it markedly from the situation of a man and woman who cohabit (see Nylund v. Finland (dec.), no. 27110/95, ECHR 1999-VI, and Lindsay v. the United Kingdom (dec.), no. 11089/84, 11 November 1986). Thus, States have a certain margin of appreciation to treat differently married and unmarried couples, particularly in matters falling within the realm of social and fiscal policy such as taxation, pensions and social security (see, mutatis mutandis, Burden, cited above, § 65).

...

101. As to the applicant, she chose, together with her partner, to live in a religious marriage and found a family. She and Ö.K. were able to live peacefully as a family, free from any interference with their family life by the domestic authorities. Thus, the fact that they opted for the religious form of marriage and did not contract a civil marriage did not entail any penalties - either administrative or criminal - such as to prevent the applicant from leading an effective family life for the purposes of Article 8. The Court therefore finds no appearance of interference by the State with the applicant's family life.

102. Accordingly, the Court is of the view that Article 8 cannot be interpreted as imposing an obligation on the State to recognise religious marriage. In that regard it is important to point out, as the Chamber did (see paragraph 29 of its judgment), that Article 8 does not require the State to establish a special regime for a particular category of unmarried couples (see Johnston and Others, cited above, § 68). For that reason the fact that the applicant does not have the status of heir, in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code governing inheritance and with the domestic social security legislation, does not imply that there has been a breach of her rights under Article 8.

..."

Højesterets begrundelse og resultat

A og BA havde boet sammen siden sommeren 1993 uden at have indgået ægteskab. I anledning af parternes samlivsophævelse meddelte BA ved e-mail af 27. oktober 2003 A, at han havde bedt sin bank om at overføre 6 mio. kr. til hendes konto. Sagens første spørgsmål er, om det overførte beløb på 6 mio. kr. helt eller delvist skal anses for et skattefrit kompensationsbeløb.

Det forhold, at A i forbindelse med modtagelsen af beløbet på 6 mio. kr. medunderskrev et antedateret gavebrev og en gaveanmeldelse til skattemyndighederne, kan under de foreliggende omstændigheder ikke afskære hende fra at gøre gældende, at der rettelig i det hele eller delvist var tale om et kompensationsbeløb, som hun modtog i forbindelse med samlivsophævelsen, og som hun havde et retligt krav på.

Det er i Højesterets praksis fastslået, jf. bl.a. UfR 1985, side 607/2, at der ved ophør af et flerårigt, fast samlivsforhold kan tillægges en part, der gennem deltagelse i parternes fælles udgifter - eller på anden måde - i væsentlig grad har bidraget til, at en anden part har kunnet skabe eller bevare en ikke ubetydelig formue, et beløb, hvis størrelse fastsættes skønsmæssigt under hensyntagen til bl.a. samlivets varighed og parternes økonomiske forhold ved dets ophør.

Af de grunde, som byretten har anført, tiltræder Højesteret ligesom landsretten, at det ikke er godtgjort, at A havde et kompensationskrav mod BA.

Højesteret tiltræder derfor også, at det overførte beløb på 6 mio. kr. - i overensstemmelse med den anmeldelse, som A og BA indgav til skattemyndighederne - må anses for en gave. Spørgsmålet er herefter, om gaven falder ind under § 22, stk. 1, litra d, i lov om afgift af dødsboer og gaver (boafgiftsloven) og dermed ikke skal henregnes til hendes skattepligtige indkomst, jf. statsskattelovens § 5, stk. 1, litra b.

Af de grunde, som landsretten har anført, tiltræder Højesteret, at A og BA ikke havde fælles bopæl efter den 22. april 2003. Det tiltrædes endvidere, at det ikke er godtgjort, at BA forud for As fraflytning havde afgivet et gaveløfte til hende om betaling af 6 mio. kr., ligesom det tiltrædes, at et gaveløfte først blev afgivet i oktober 2003.

A modtog således ikke gaven på et tidspunkt, hvor hun og BA havde fælles bopæl som krævet efter boafgiftslovens § 22, stk. 1, litra d. Gaven er dermed ikke omfattet af statsskattelovens § 5, stk. 1, litra b, men skal henregnes til As skattepligtige indkomst, jf. statsskattelovens § 4, litra c.

Højesteret finder, at Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedskonventions artikel 14 sammenholdt med artikel 8 eller artikel 1 i tillægsprotokol 1 ikke er til hinder for, at ugifte samlevende i økonomisk henseende behandles anderledes end ægtefæller ved samlivets ophør, herunder skattemæssigt, jf. herved bl.a. Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedsdomstols dom af 29. april 2008 i sagen Burden mod UK og dom af 2. november 2010 i sagen Serife Yigit mod Tyrkiet.

Højesteret stadfæster herefter dommen.

T h i   k e n d e s   f o r   r e t

Landsrettens dom stadfæstes.

I sagsomkostninger for Højesteret skal statskassen betale 125.000 kr. til Skatteministeriet.

De idømte sagsomkostningsbeløb skal betales inden 14 dage efter denne højesteretsdoms afsigelse og forrentes efter rentelovens § 8 a.