Since several weeks there have been discussions around intellectual property rights (IP) registered at the patent and trademark office in Germany and that such registrations may trigger a corporate limited tax liability in Germany according to § 49 (1) No. 2 Letter f and No. 6 German Income Tax Law, GITL. While this topic was not of practical relevance so far, the discussion continued with a lot of uncertainty how German tax authorities indeed envisage to handle this topic. On Friday, 6 November 2020, the German Ministry of Finance published an official guidance on this topic (BMF-Schreiben 6. November 2020: Verpflichtung zur Abgabe von Steueranmeldungen/ Steuererklärungen zur beschränkten Steuerpflicht bei der Überlassung von in inländischen Registern eingetragenen Rechten). As such, there is now clarity on the German tax authorities’ official view.
In a nutshell, based on the interpretation of the new official guidance tax filing and withholding tax obligations in Germany could be triggered by IP structures without an obvious nexus with Germany as illustrated below: