March 01
2021
Anjum Shabbir
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21st January 2020
Justice & Litigation Tax

Spanish tax tribunals now precluded from making preliminary references

Today, the Court of Justice ruled in Banco de Santander SA (C‑274/14) that Spanish tax tribunals (tribunales económico-administrativos) are not a ‘jurisdiction’ pursuant to Article 267 TFEU.

In a case concerning State aid and the Spanish goodwill for tax purposes raised by the central tax tribunal, the Court of Justice pointed out that the members of the Spanish tax tribunals are not subject to specific and exceptional causes of dismissal which are characteristic of members of independent bodies. Furthermore, the decisions of the tribunals can be brought against the tax authorities in the context of an administrative appeal, thus exerting additional pressure over the activity of the tribunal. As a result, the Court rules that the Spanish tax tribunals lack independence in the sense of Article 267 TFEU and cannot make preliminary references.

This judgment reverses the Court’s ruling dealing with Spanish tax tribunals (Gabalfrisa), which allowed them to make preliminary references in the past.

Read the full judgment (French) here:

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