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SJ Berwin's German arm SJ Berwin Knopf Tulloch Steininger and Berlin firm P+P Pöllath + Partners have set up a lobbying group to put pressure on the German tax authorities.
Both firms are mounting pressure on tax authority representatives to support the European Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, and not to implement changes that they believe will inhibit non-German investment in private equity. There is a certain amount of ambiguity over the interpretation of the tax laws on private equity and the tax authorities are in the process of outlining an explanation which would give the authorities a better grip on the law. Some fund structures allow private individuals to invest through a fund and not to pay tax on capital gains. This does not change if the individuals pool their interest. However, there is a tax distinction between investment activities and trade and business. The tax authorities are now looking to class all funds as trade and business for the purpose of tax, which means that private investors would lose the right to receive capital gains without tax. If the regulations go through then law firms will have to change their approach on structuring, and the whole process will become more complicated. SJ Berwin partner Uwe Steininger said: "The proposed changes are not in line with international standards. They favour jurisdictions that compete with Germany. If the proposals do go through it will be detrimental to the German economy in the end."