Tax: local firms in South Korea

Kim & Chang

Kim & Chang's 'very intelligent and capable' team 'offers creative solutions' to clients requiring assistance with any of the Korean tax issues which may affect a company from incorporation to exit, including planning, applications for exemptions, rulings, and health checks. The firm also has a large transfer pricing and customs sub-practice, with Tae Yeon Nam being a key contact for this type of work. Of particular note is the group's successful handling of contentious tax matters which has included acting in numerous precedent-setting Supreme Court cases dealing with the beneficial ownership issue. The team's credentials in litigation are reinforced by it fielding a large number of former members of the judiciary, including Sang Woo Lee, and practice co-heads Woo Hyun Baik and Byung Moon JungHae Ma Joong Kim is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Woo Hyun Baik; Byung Moon Jung

Testimonials

A very intelligent and capable law firm with a lot of knowledge in the tax area, which offers creative solutions in a timely manner.

Diligent and impeccable professionals who understand the client’s needs and perspectives very well.

Key clients

Goldman Sachs

LG Electronics Inc.

Citibank

CJ

Morgan Stanley

Hyundai Motor Company

GE

Oracle Korea

e-Bay

National Oilwell Varco

Work highlights

  • Acted in a tax appeal against an assessment which found that taxes were being withheld on dividend and interest income received by Lux SICAVs.  
  • Acted in litigation concerning the determination of beneficial ownership for Korean tax purposes.  
  • Acted successfully in a Supreme Court case concerning beneficial ownership in the context of a group restructuring.

Lee & Ko

Lee & Ko has long been recognised for its strengths in corporate tax consulting, audits and dispute resolution. Also notable is that the team is increasingly focused on cross-border tax matters. Jay Shim, who leads the international tax planning and transactions practice, is an expert in overseas investment and offshore fund formation. The group also fields a large number of former National Tax Service (NTS) and government officials, including Sung Hyun RyuTae Young Kwon and Jae Woong Kim. The firm generates mandates from clients in a wide range of sectors, including real estate, TMT, banking and manufacturing. Myung Sub KimByeong Jun Son and Kyung Tae Kim are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jay Shim; Myung Sub Kim

Testimonials

Able to consult on tax issues from a new perspective without relying on existing conclusions.

The team has good communication with customers, is enthusiastic, and provides a logical analysis.

Key clients

MasterCard

Microsoft

Amazon

ADT Caps

Bayer Korea Ltd.

NH Amundi Investment & Securities

Baring Private Equity Asia

Polaris Shipping Co., Ltd.

Shinsegae

SK Telecom

Songwon Industrial Group

Hwagok 3 Reconstruction Association

Police Mutual Aid Association

Korean Veterans Association

STX Offshore & Shipbuilding

Golfzon

Dongwon Enterprise

Medtronic Korea

Korea Trade Insurance Corporation

Hanwha Asset Management

Samsung SRA Asset Management

POSCO

CJ

Daelim Industrial

Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction

GS E&C

Hyundai Motor

Korean Air

LG

Lotte Shopping

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering

Humax

Woori Bank

Korea Development Bank

Quilvest Private Equity

Alazar Technologies Inc.

Ingevity

Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., Ltd.

Lindstrom Oy

MaeilFoods

Showbox Co., Ltd

Korea Professional Golf Association

United Air Lines, Inc.

Lotte Property & Development

Dongwon Loex

Busan Port Authority

Samsung C&T Corporation

Samsung Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd

Four Seasons Hotel Seoul

The Sherwin-Williams Company

Omicron electronics GmbH

Work highlights

  • Provided Lotte Property & Development with tax advisory services, including a pre-emptive tax risk analysis and tax audit defence, concerning its acquisition of the tallest skyscraper in Korea.
  • Represented Seoul Beltway Corporation, a highway infrastructure company, in tax litigation regarding a corporate income tax assessment of $23.2m.
  • Acted for Mastercard in tax litigation to cancel the NTS’ additional withholding tax assessment on the payments of assessments from Korean payment card companies to Mastercard.

Yulchon

Yulchon's tax practice has recently had multiple landmark successes representing clients in various cases, including two before the Supreme Court and one before the Tax Tribunal. On the non-contentious side, the team continues to carry out tax audit work and provide M&A-related tax structuring advice. In addition, the firm has a key focus on assisting major Korean conglomerates with global transfer pricing issues; Dong Hoon Ha takes the lead on this type of work. Dong Soo Kim heads up the team, which also includes co-managing partner Seok Hoon Kang and appeals specialist Yun Heui Cho. Yong Whan Choi and Kyu Dong Kim are the key names to note for matters with an international dimension, with the latter advising notable clients such as Amazon, Google, AirBnB and Expedia on funds and real estate investments.

Practice head(s):

Seok Hoon Kang; Dong Soo Kim

Key clients

Amazon

Google

Microsoft

Qualcomm

AMD

Corning

Cadence Design Systems

Synopsys

Koch Industry Group

PTC

Airbnb

Netflix

Expedia

Agoda

Shutterstock

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Goldman Sachs PIA

TPG capital

Macquarie

Morgan Stanley

Hyatt

L’Oréal International

UPS

Meritz Alternative Investment Management

Hyundai Asset Management

Mirae Asset Global Investments

Coupang

Work highlights

  • Successfully advised KTB Asset Management on its $800m acquisition of the T-Centre, located in Austria, and the Tesco Distribution Centre, located in Ireland, via a real estate fund.
  • Obtained a favourable Tax Tribunal decision regarding customs duties and VAT associated with the importation of LNG, on behalf of SK E&S and POSCO.
  • Represented several major commercial banks in tax litigation before the Supreme Court to reverse an assessment that they were withholding tax of approximately $24m on interest paid in connection with refund guarantees.

Bae, Kim & Lee LLC

Contentious tax work is a cornerstone of Bae, Kim & Lee LLC's practice, with the team having a particularly high success rate representing Korean conglomerates and large multinational companies in tax assessments and Tax Tribunal appeal cases. Litigation is an area of focus for many key individuals in the team, including Seog Kyoo Kang and Il Young Cho. Transfer pricing is another core area of expertise for the group, which is often called upon to prepare transfer pricing studies, advance pricing agreements (both unilateral and bilateral) and mutual agreements procedures. The group has recently seen an increase in the volume of tax advisory work it is instructed to undertake by Korean asset management companies wishing to invest overseas. Also recommended are Maria Chang and Seung-Wan Chae.

Practice head(s):

Seog Kyoo Kang

Testimonials

They delivered a successful outcome in a court case.

Key clients

Bank of China

Comcast Corporation

Diageo

Hyundai Motor Group (Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Glovis, Hyundai Mobis)

KORAIL

LG Corp.

LINA Korea

Philip Morris Korea

Samsung Electronics

Shinhan Alternative Investment Management Inc.

SK Hynix

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented claimant KORAIL in its corporate tax litigation concerning the failed Yongsan International Business District Project.
  • Represented members of the family that owns LG Group in an alleged tax evasion case.
  • Advised Shinhan Alternative Investment Management on various cross-border debt and loan investment deals, including the SL Capital Infrastructure II fund investment operated by Aberdeen Standard Investment.

Shin & Kim

Shin & Kim's tax team has seen considerable recent expansion, most notably with the addition of Jinkyu Yoon, who previously served at the Tax Law Research Division of the Supreme Court of Korea and at the Tax Litigation Department of the Seoul Administrative Court. Yoon's arrival strengthened the practice's growing tax disputes offering, which is headed up by Choon Cho. On the non-contentious side, the firm continues to advise on tax planning, inheritance issues and the tax-related work arising from M&A and corporate restructurings. Hyeon-Jin Kim takes the lead on tax advisory and tax investigation matters. Hee-Chan Byun is the overall head of the tax practice.

Other key lawyers:

Jinkyu Yoon

Testimonials

Shin & Kim has always been faithful to the goals the company wants to reach and has delivered the desired results – they study a lot to think from the customer’s point of view.

Choon Cho is prudent, conscientious and has the expertise to predict results.

Key clients

KCC Corporation

Samsung Biologics

Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL)

Samsung Electronics

Sindoh Co., Ltd.

Samsung C&T

Taekwang

Lotte Group

Dole Korea Limited

AJU Corporation Co., Ltd.

SL Corporation

Korea Investment Management Co. Ltd.

Del Monte Fresh Produce (Korea) Ltd.

CJ Logistics Corporation

POSCO

Ssangyong Cement Industrial Co., Ltd.

AIG Korea

Linde Korea Co., Ltd.

Shinhan Financial Group Co., Ltd.

Korea East-West Power Co., Ltd (EWP)

Korea Southern Power Co. Ltd. (KOSPO)

Korea Gas Corporation

Work highlights

  • Successfully revoked a tax imposition on behalf of plaintiff POSCO.
  • Successfully represented claimant KORAIL in its corporate tax litigation concerning the failed Yongsan International Business District Project.
  • Advising the president and largest shareholder of Taekwang on the best method of handing down his shares in the company.

Yoon & Yang LLC

The tax team at Yoon & Yang LLC comprises of many certified public accountants, certified public tax accountants and customs attorneys, as well as numerous former judges and officials. The group was recently strengthened by the arrivals of Choong Woo Jung and Jin Seok Lee from the Seoul Regional Tax Office of the Korean Tax Authority and Incheon District Court respectively. The firm is therefore well placed to advise both local and global clients on a full range of tax matters, including compliance, audits, customs and litigation. The practice also fields a growing transfer pricing sub-group. Jae Woong Jeong leads the team, which also includes managing partners Seung Soon Lim and Oh-Young Jeon, and associate Jung Yeol Lee.

Practice head(s):

Jae Woong Jeong

Testimonials

They seem to be effectively persuading the judges at the Supreme Court with their legal logic.

Key clients

First Abu Dhabi Bank

Nestle Korea Ltd.

Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co., Ltd.

British American Tobacco Korea Ltd.

Pizza Hut Korea

Hyundai Motor Company

Samsung Electronics Service Co., Ltd.

SK Hynix Inc.

Korea Midland Power Co., Ltd.

KTN Co., Ltd.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Ltd.

Hydis Technologies Co., Ltd. (Taiwanese company)

Incheon Port Authority

Kodak Korea Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction on the standards for determining the legitimacy of a transaction value in cases where a domestic company transfers its properties to several unrelated entities.
  • Representing Samsung Electronics in administrative and associated criminal litigation concerning VAT and corporate income tax imposed by the tax authority following the alleged falsification of invoices.  
  • Represented KTN  in administrative litigation concerning VAT imposed by the tax authority as a consequence of incorrect invoices.