Most double tax treaties in Belgium include a beneficial ownership clause. The beneficial ownership clause is a provision aimed to counter improper tax provisions included in a double tax as treaty for optimization purposes. The article explores the meaning and scope of the beneficial ownership clause. From a historical viewpoint, common law countries, which were familiar with the concept in their domestic law, completed their double tax treaties with a beneficial ownership clause. However, in civil law countries like Belgium, there is in principle no split legal title, and no economic concept of beneficial ownership. Civil law countries cannot rely on a law notion available in domestic law to guide the interpretation of beneficial ownership clause from double tax treaties.
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