Bjørnholm Law is a highly specialized boutique law firm. We assist in disputes with the Danish tax authorities, both prior to litigation and then throughout the appeals process, including where necessary employing mutual agreement procedures. Further, we offer advice on international taxation.
”Bjørnholm comes highly recommended by clients and is described as one of the best lawyers in Denmark to present clients before the courts in all tax-related controversy issues. One client said: ”Bjørnholm is a small boutique law firm which better than the top law firms is able to dedicate his full attention to his clients at hand. We see this as an advantage which together with our existing cooperation would recommend this firm.” (International Tax Review, ITR World Tax, fall 2016).
We assist both businesses and individuals in controversies with the Danish tax authorities. We provide advice from when the case is initiated by the Danish tax authorities until it is concluded, whether by agreement with the tax authorities or after an appeal process to the Danish courts and/or the European Court of Justice. We also assist with obtaining binding advanced rulings and applications to utilise Mutual Agreement Procedures. Away from controversies, we also give strategic tax advice in particular with respect to cross-border tax issues.
That a case is winnable does not automatically entail that it is won. Bjørnholm Law is a leading firm when it comes to winning cases. This is because we are thorough, we form a clear strategy for the case, and our business is focused on tax controversies. We build excellent working relations with other advisors involved in our cases. All these factors ensure that the arguments presented are to the point and well considered.
We are currently involved in several transfer pricing disputes at all levels of the process and concerns issues such as business restructurings (closing businesses and transforming from fully fledged to limited risk); financing; consecutive losses; and pricing of commodities and employee secondments. We are handling cases at the tax authority audit stage, including cases where Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is attempted, cases at the administrative appeal stage, court cases and cases under Mutual Agreement Procedure. Aside from transfer pricing the issues at stake in our current caseload include beneficial ownership; hydrocarbon taxation; employee share incentives and excise duties in international air traffic.
A survey conducted in 2014 showed that Nikolaj Bjørnholm was the second most successful tax lawyer at the Danish Supreme Court.
Bjørnholm Law has recently prevailed in the following cases:
• The Tax Tribunal: Transfer pricing case concerning the cessation of production activities in Denmark. The first case regarding business restructurings under chapter IX of the OECD TPG.
• The Tax Authorities: Transfer pricing case concerning amongst other interest rates resolved by ADR.
• The High Court: The first ever case on denial of access to the EU Arbitration Convention.
• The National Tax Tribunal: Taxation of the provision of free housing by a company to its majority shareholder.
• The Tax Authorities: Transfer pricing case concerning an amount in the hundreds of millions DKK with respect to a company which was loss making for almost two decades.
• The Supreme Court: Hydrocarbon taxation of financial income. The first hydrocarbon tax case ever heard by the courts. We also acted for the taxpayer before the High Court in 2013.
• The National Tax Tribunal: Transfer pricing case on hired out employees.
• The National Tax Tribunal: Taxation of an individual receiving funds from the UK.
• The High Court: Damages due to alleged misinformation on part of the seller in a M&A transaction.
• The High Court: Hydrocarbon taxation of financial income. The first hydrocarbon tax case ever heard before the courts.
• The High Court: Taxation of funds received in a failed attempt to complete a capital increase of hundreds of millions DKK.
• The Tax Tribunal: Transfer pricing case on interest rate.
• The Tax Authorities: Transfer pricing case concerning an amount in the millions of DKK with respect to a company which was loss making for almost a decade.
• The Supreme Court: Deduction of management fees for a venture fund.
• The High Court: Right to resumption of car registration duties based on new precedents from the Supreme Court.
• The Tax Tribunal: Refund of taxes paid on tax exempt per diems.
• The Tax Authorities: Withholding tax on interest and dividend of hundreds of millions DKK due to lack of beneficial ownership.
Our expertise within taxation is acknowledged by leading independent rating organisations.
2020: Rated as individual in tier 1
2019: Rated as individual in tier 1
2018: Rated as individual in tier 1
2017: Rated as individual in tier 1
Nikolaj Bjørnholm, founder of Bjørnholm Law, is a seasoned tax practitioner with a strong track record in transfer pricing cases and employee incentive schemes, often advising clients from the technology and energy fields. Clients say: "He has a very high level of technical knowledge and provides valuable input.” (2019)
“Nikolaj Bjørnholm of Bjørnholm Law is an experienced tax professional who is principally renowned for his work on tax litigation and highlighted as "one of the strongest litigators in Denmark," frequently handling cases relating to transfers pricing. Sources describe him as "very pleasant, always calm, kind and open to listening to whatever you have to say," while another adds: "He had courage in his convictions and is able to be quite bullish in saying whether you should fight or settle in a case.” (2018)
“Nikolaj Bjørnholm of Bjørnholm Law is noted for his extensive experience in tax law and continues to advise as a sole practitioner after leaving Plesner in 2016. He focuses on contentious tax issues, litigation and corporate tax. Sources describe him as ”very talented” and both ”technically and commercially good.” (2017)
2021: Nikolaj Bjørnholm ranked as leading individual
2020: Bjørnholm Law ranked in tier 3
Bjørnholm Law 'has demonstrated extremely strong credentials in managing and winning disputes, especially in the field of transfer pricing'. Group co-head Nikolaj Bjørnholm is 'always on top of the situation when managing complex cases' and has 'a determined approach to finding appropriate solutions to the benefit of the client', and fellow practice head Bodil Tolstrup is 'extremely thorough in the preparation of any case matter' and 'very experienced when litigating the case in court'.
2021: Tier 1 in Tax Controversy
2021: Tier 4 in General Corporate Tax
“Bjørnholm and Tolstrup both specialise in controversies in tax and tranfer pricng and the boutique is already recognised in both world tax and world transfer pricing rankings”. (ITR, 2019)
“The practice has been able to secure prominent clients on account of its outstanding record in litigation before the Danish courts. These cases include negotiations and settlements at the tax tribunal. One client said: ”Bjørnholm Law has the right balance between tax expertise, experience and pragmatism, with quite a good understanding of the business”. (ITR, 2018)
“He is a recognised litigator and is highly spoken of by his peers. In 2016, he prevailed before the High Court in the first case of denial of access to the EU arbitration convention. He is working on various tax controversies in relation to transfer pricing, beneficial ownership and hydrocarbon taxation, among other things. Bjørnholm comes highly recommended by clients and is described as one of the best lawyers in Denmark to present clients before the courts in all tax-related controversy issues".
One client said: ”Bjørnholm is a small boutique law firm which better than the top law firms is able to dedicate his full attention to his clients at hand. We see this as an advantage which together with our existing cooperation would recommend this firm”. (ITR, 2017)
2021: Tier 3 (but only law firm with a highly regarded individual)
"Held in high regard by clients and firms alike, Bjørnholm has been rated as one of the best tax lawyers in Denmark. The firm has been able to secure prominent clients on account of his outstanding record as a litigator, representing clients before the Danish courts in a number of audits. This includes negotiations, settlements and oral procedures at the tax tribunal”. (ITR, 2018)
“He is a recognised litigator and was highly spoken of by his peers and clients. One client said: “We have used Bjørnholm Law on several occasions and have benefitted from their professionality and commitment”. (ITR, 2017)
Nikolaj Bjørnholm is listed in 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013
Bodil Tolstrup is listed in 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015
Nikolaj Bjørnholm is listed in the 2019 guide
2020: Thought Leaders Global Elite 2020 - Corporate Tax: Nikolaj Bjørnholm is listed as Global Elite Thought Leader
2019: Thought Leaders Global Elite 2019 - Corporate Tax: Nikolaj Bjørnholm is listed as Global Elite Thought Leader
2019: Thought Leaders - Corporate Tax 2019: Nikolaj Bjørnholm is listed as Thought Leader
"The "excellent" Nikolaj Bjørnholm at Bjørnholm Law is highlighted by sources as "among the highest-regarded and most successful lawyers at the Supreme Court" in Denmark. He emerges as the top name in the jurisdiction in our research this year."
2020: Winner of Client Choice
2018: Winner of Corporate Tax
2016: Lawyer of the year within taxation (recognized since 2009)
In the spring of 2021 Bjørnholm Law prevailed in a High Court transfer pricing case with respect to a loss making company. The taxpayer prevailed in 2018 before the National Tax Tribunal, which inter alia ruled that the mere presence on the Danish market did not generate benefits for the wider group, that warranted a compensation to the Danish subsidiary. The Ministry of Taxation brought the matter before the ordinary courts requesting first instance proceedings before the High Court due to the principal nature of the dispute. The oral hearings were scheduled in the Spring of 2021 but shortly before the Ministry of Taxation decided to withdraw the appeal.
Nikolaj Bjørnholm will co-chair together with Kat Saunders Gregor of Ropes & Gray a transfer pricing panel at the 21st Annual U.S. and Europe Tax Practice Trends Conference to be held virtually on March 22-25 2021. The panelist are in-house experts and an OECD representative: Sven Bremer, Head of Transfer Pricing, Siemens, Munich, Stuart Chessman, Vivendi S.A., New York, NY, Francesca Fracassi, Q8 Kuwait Petroleum Italia S.p.A., Rome and Mayra Lucas, Senior Advisor, Transfer Pricing, OECD, Paris. The panel will focus on the impact of the pandemic on transfer pricing policies and operations, including OECD guidance. Panelists will look at the interplay between these dynamics and other developments, including the Coke case in the US, the Apple state aid decision and the Adecco decision in Denmark. In addition, the panel will feature the perspectives of tax executives on navigating changing TP laws and substantiation requirements during this turbulent economic period. The conference is organised by American Bar Association, in cooperation with the IBA and the US IFA branch. For more information, see here
Nikolaj Bjørnholm has as correspondent to European Taxation published by the IBFD written an article highlighting the aspects of Denmark’s legislative programme for 2020/21 that would be of interest to an international audience. The article discussed, inter alia, COVID-19 tax measures, measures in response to OECD and EU initiatives (including amendments to the loss utilization rules, PE definition and CFC rules), the green tax reform, transfer pricing measures and R&D incentives. For more information, please see European Taxation Journal 2021 Issue 1 : Denmark – The Legislative Programme for 2020/2021 – IBFD here
Nikolaj Bjørnholm has written the Denmark chapter to the commentary on the EU Council Directive 2017/1852 on tax dispute resolution. The commentary which is edited by Raul-Angelo Papotti and published by Wolters Kluwer currently covers 11 EU countries. For more information, see here
Bodil Tolstrup and Nikolaj Bjørnholm have written an article published by the International Transfer Pricing Journal discussing the Danish Supreme Court ruling in the Adecco, where the Supreme Court overturned the High Court ruling. The dispute concerned the arm’s length nature of trademark royalties. Find more information here
In the WWL Who’s Who Legal Corporate Tax 2020 both Bodil Tolstrup and Nikolaj Bjørnholm are ranked as leading corporate tax controversy practitioners. Find more information here
ITR (International Tax Review) has recently published the 2021 editions of the guides; World Tax, World TP and Women in Tax. Notably, Bjørnholm Law is ranked tier 1 in Tax Controversy and the only law firm with a highly regarded transfer pricing individual. Both Bodil Tolstrup and Nikolaj Bjørnholm are individually ranked as leaders and highly regarded. Find more information for World Tax here (firm rankings) and World Taxhere (ranking of individuals). For more information on World TP look here
Nikolaj Bjørnholm has written an article published by the International Transfer Pricing Journal discussing the Danish High Court ruling in the Sandoz Transfer Pricing Matter – TNMM inclusion of Booked Goodwill When Comparing with Benchmarks? The dispute concerned whether under the TNMM, the exclusion by Sandoz of Goodwill amortizations were justified when comparing its EBIT margin with those of a benchmark study. Find more information here
In the Chambers 2020 ranking of Bjørnholm Law both Nikolaj Bjørnholm and Bodil Tolstrup are ranked. Find more information here
Client Choice has ranked Bodil Tolstrup as Client Choise Winner 2020 for Denmark. Find more information here
Nikolaj Bjørnholm has written an article published by the International Transfer Pricing Journal discussing the Danish High Court ruling in the Adecco case. The dispute concerned the arm’s length nature of trademark royalties. Find more information here
Nikolaj Bjørnholm was panelist in the panel “Significant International Tax Cases” at the 9th Annual IBA Finance & Capital Market Tax Conference held in London. Find more information here here
ITR (International Tax Review) has recently published new editions of the guides; World Tax, World TP, Women in Tax, TP Leaders and Tax Controversy Leaders. Find more information here
Notably, Bjørnholm Law is ranked tier 2 in Tax Controversy and the only law firm with a highly regarded transfer pricing individual. Find more information here
In the spring of 2019 Bjørnholm Law prevailed in two cases.
In May 2019 the National Tax Tribunal found in favor of our client in a transfer pricing dispute concerning allocation of risk and thus accepted that group related counterparties could bear the risk of the other party’s failure to take delivery / deliver goods without this being separately priced. The decision has not been appealed to the courts. The decision is not published as the factual circumstances could not be sufficiently anonymized.
In March 2019 our client and the tax authorities reached a settlement whereby our client obtained a refund of excess surcharge (“restskattetillæg”) of a significant mDKK amount (equaling +90% of the original claim). The case had been pending at the National Tax Tribunal for more than two years when Bjørnholm Law was retained by the client in December 2018.
Bjørnholm Law has contributed to the latest edition of ”Tax Management International Forum” concerning Tax Reporting Units. Read our contribution here Denmark March 2019
Nikolaj Bjørnholm will speak at the 19th Annual U.S. and Europe Tax Practice Trends Conference to be held in Paris 3-5th April 2019. The conference is organised by American Bar Association. Find more information here
Once again Nikolaj Bjørnholm will be a panelist and the topic will be “Transfer Pricing Cases and Dispute Resolution Mechanisms”.
Landmark transfer pricing case on business restructuring stands.
On 8 September 2018, the Danish Tax Tribunal decided in favor of a taxpayer in a TP case on business restructurings (OECD TPG, chapter IX). The ruling is now final as the Danish Ministry of taxation has decided not to appeal. The ruling from the Tax Tribunal can be found here
In the case the tax authorities claimed that significant accounting costs / losses incurred by a Danish subsidiary upon closure of a Danish production plant should be reimbursed by the multinational parent company as a taxable compensation. The Tax Tribunal ruled that the closure did not result in a transfer of something of value (neither tangible nor intangible assets were transferred) and likewise the closure did not result in changes to any existing contractual arrangements which would warrant reimbursement between third parties. Thus, the mere fact that a subsidiary suffered significant accounting costs / losses due to group decision to terminate Danish operations did not in itself warrant a TP correction.
Prior to the ruling from the Danish Tax Tribunal, the case also gave rise to a dispute on access to MAP under the EU Arbitration Convention (90/436), as the tax authorities alleged that the request for MAP did not met the minimum requirements set in the code of conduct. The tax payer also prevailed on this matter. My article on the decision by the High Court has been published by the IBFD in European Taxation, December 2016, page 534-540. The article contains a description of the facts and arguments. The ruling from the High Court can be found here
Bjornholm Law is proud to have represented the taxpayer in both cases.
Once again Nikolaj Bjørnholm will speak at the Annual Conference of the International Bar Association to be held in Rome in October 2018.
The topic will be “New Trends in the Relationship Between Tax Administrations and Taxpayers”. In the panel will be tax officers from the UK and Italy, a professional from the banking sector and leading private practice tax lawyers.
The Tax Tribunal has decided in favor of the taxpayer in a transfer pricing case concerning business restructurings under chapter IX of the OECD TPG. Bjornholm Law represented the taxpayer.
Bjørnholm Law has contributed to the latest edition of Practising Law Institute’s Treatise that is produced in conjunction with PLI’s “Tax Strategies for Corporate Acquisitions, Dispositions, Spin-Offs, Joint Ventures, Financings, Reorganizations & Restructurings 2018”. Read our contribution Denmark June 2018
In 2017 the Danish tax authorities introduced Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Four cases have since then been subject to ADR proceedings, and Bjørnholm Law has acted as advisor on three of these cases. Based on this experience Bjørnholm Law is still of the opinion that ADR is a relevant additional mechanism of solving disputes.
Bodil Tolstrup and Nikolaj Bjørnholm shared their experience and thoughts with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for the Association of Danish Tax Lawyers.
Together with head of Danish Competent Authority and lead mediator Bo Darling Larsen, Bodil Tolstrup and Nikolaj Bjørnholm presented the concept Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and their experience and thoughts during a training day organized by the tax directors of leading Danish corporations.
Bjørnholm Law has contributed to the latest edition of ”Tax Management International Forum” concerning Acquisition Financing. Read our contribution Denmark – March 2018.
ITR World Tax 2018 has been published and we are proud to be placed in Tier 3-Denmark given that we were established only a year ago. We will do our best to move higher next year.
The Danish Tax Council has for the first time applied the general anti abuse rule (GAAR) which was enacted in 2015 and based on the equivalent GAARs introduced in EU tax law. We have written an article on this decision in the Danish journal on international taxation “Skat Udland” (SU 2017, 147).
Bodil Tolstrup and Nikolaj Bjørnholm gave a lecture to the Danish Association for EU Tax Law regarding the new EU-directive on Mutual Agreement Procedure and Arbitration in tax cases. Se our slides here (only in Danish).
Nikolaj Bjørnholm has participated as speaker/panelist on the Transfer Pricing Controversy Panel at the ABA 17th Annual Tax Planning Strategies U.S. and Europe Conference in Barcelona.
Nikolaj Bjørnholm has participated in the 6th Annual IBA Tax Conference as co-chair of the panel discussing International Tax Dispute Resolution.
Nikolaj Bjørnholm is an experienced litigator and is one of the few tax lawyers having appeared before the Supreme Court more than 15 times since 2000. He is ranked as a leading tax lawyer in Chambers; Legal 500; Who´s Who Legal; Which Lawyer; and Tax Directors Handbook among others, where clients describe him as “talented”; “intelligent, creative and responsive”; “fast and goes straight to the issue”; “exceptionally good”; and “particularly strong in international tax and litigation”. During his career he has continuously published articles in both Danish and international tax journals, and he has been correspondent to Tax Notes International; European Taxation and BNA.
Nikolaj Bjørnholm graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 1991 (LLM) and the Copenhagen Business School in 1996 (Diploma in Economics). Upon graduating in 1991 he spent five months with the EU Commission, after which he has continuously worked as a lawyer (partner) with some of the major Danish / Scandinavian law firms: Bech-Bruun (1992 – 2010); Hannes Snellman (2011 – 2013); and Plesner (2014 – 2016). In 2016 he founded Bjørnholm Law together with Bodil Tolstrup.
Nikolaj Bjørnholm is a member of the International Bar Association (officer of the Taxation Committee 2003–2004 and 2009-2010); the American Bar Association; the International Fiscal Association; The Danish Bar Association; and the Danish Tax Lawyer Association.
Bodil Tolstrup is specialized in tax controversy within all areas of tax. She has represented clients varying from individuals and small independent businesses to venture funds and labor-unions. Bodil has published several articles in both Danish and international tax journals, and she is correspondent to BNA/Bloomberg.
Bodil Tolstrup graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 2002 (LLM). Upon graduating she worked as a legal officer with the Danish Tax Tribunal (the administrative tax appeals agency in Denmark) (2003-2005). Since then she has continuously worked as a lawyer with some of the major Danish / Scandinavian law firms: Bech-Bruun (2005 – 2010); Hannes Snellman (2011 – 2013); and Plesner (2014 – 2016). In 2016 she founded Bjørnholm Law together with Nikolaj Bjørnholm.
Bodil Tolstrup is a member of the International Fiscal Association; The Danish Bar Association; and the Danish Tax Lawyer Association.
Advokat (H), HD(R)
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