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Addressing the VAT gap in the EU

17-12-2020

Among indirect taxes, value added tax (VAT) has the highest share in the Member States' indirect taxation revenues and is an important source of income for the EU budget too. Therefore, estimations and actions to narrow the difference between expected and actual VAT revenues – the VAT gap – are important. According to the European Commission, the EU VAT gap stood at €140 billion in 2018 and could fall below €130 billion in 2019. However, Covid-19-related containment measures have hurt Member States ...

Among indirect taxes, value added tax (VAT) has the highest share in the Member States' indirect taxation revenues and is an important source of income for the EU budget too. Therefore, estimations and actions to narrow the difference between expected and actual VAT revenues – the VAT gap – are important. According to the European Commission, the EU VAT gap stood at €140 billion in 2018 and could fall below €130 billion in 2019. However, Covid-19-related containment measures have hurt Member States' economies and eroded the VAT base. As a result, the VAT gap may reach over €164 billion in 2020. A broad VAT gap requires urgent action for improving voluntary compliance, achieving better administrative cooperation and enhancing the performance of national tax administrations. Recent EU legislative initiatives have addressed these needs, while also seeking to adapt the VAT system to the challenges of the modern economy. The VAT e-commerce package applicable from 2021 is a good example of these efforts. Another is the adoption in July 2020 of a tax package aimed to combat tax fraud. The package includes a Tax action plan, a communication on 'Good Tax Governance' and a proposal to amend Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation. The European Union is a global leader in the digitalisation of VAT compliance, and its work on drawing up the legislative framework for applying VAT in the digital economy spans a number of years. Noteworthy is the requirement for non-EU businesses providing digital services to private consumers in the EU Member States to register for VAT and charge VAT based on destination, which set an example to emulate by other non-EU countries.

Taxation of the digital economy: Latest developments

15-12-2020

There is an important ongoing debate on the direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy. Proposals on digital taxes, which are under negotiation in the OECD, are inter-linked with European Commission proposals on the same subject. As the Council did not reach an agreement on the Commission proposal for a digital services tax, national initiatives appeared in the interim until a global solution in the area of direct taxation could be found in the OECD. On 1 December 2020, the Council endorsed ...

There is an important ongoing debate on the direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy. Proposals on digital taxes, which are under negotiation in the OECD, are inter-linked with European Commission proposals on the same subject. As the Council did not reach an agreement on the Commission proposal for a digital services tax, national initiatives appeared in the interim until a global solution in the area of direct taxation could be found in the OECD. On 1 December 2020, the Council endorsed the text of amendments to the Directive on Administrative Cooperation between the Member States (known as DAC7), which will oblige digital platform operators to provide information on the operations they intermediate. If an agreement is not achieved at global level by July 2021, it could trigger an EU response in the form of a digital levy. There is also a debate on whether that levy should be similar to the Commission proposal that failed to get political backing or not.

Recovery and Resilience Facility: Key features and developments

06-10-2020

The Recovery and Resilience Facility is intended to be the Union's main tool in support of economic and social recovery from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. It will provide €672.5 billion in grants and loans as financial support over the coming years. The aim of the Facility is to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion and secure lasting recovery. In its 2021 annual sustainable growth strategy, the Commission set out strategic guidance for implementation of the Facility. ...

The Recovery and Resilience Facility is intended to be the Union's main tool in support of economic and social recovery from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. It will provide €672.5 billion in grants and loans as financial support over the coming years. The aim of the Facility is to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion and secure lasting recovery. In its 2021 annual sustainable growth strategy, the Commission set out strategic guidance for implementation of the Facility. Currently, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission are committed to completing the Facility's design phase and ensuring its prompt entry into force.

State aid and the pandemic: How State aid can back coronavirus economic support measures

08-06-2020

The coronavirus pandemic and its financial and economic consequences have caused a major economic downturn, and the European Union (EU) has moved rapidly to respond with monetary and fiscal policy measures. The fiscal policy instruments deployed include the adaptation of State aid rules to the exceptional circumstances to allow Member States to support their economies by means of direct or indirect intervention. From a competition law point of view, measures that constitute State aid are in principle ...

The coronavirus pandemic and its financial and economic consequences have caused a major economic downturn, and the European Union (EU) has moved rapidly to respond with monetary and fiscal policy measures. The fiscal policy instruments deployed include the adaptation of State aid rules to the exceptional circumstances to allow Member States to support their economies by means of direct or indirect intervention. From a competition law point of view, measures that constitute State aid are in principle illegal, unless issued under an exemption, such as the De minimis Regulation or the General Block Exemption Regulation, subject to notification and European Commission approval. The State aid rules do, however, already allow for aid to compensate for damage caused by natural disasters and exceptional events, such as a pandemic. State aid can also be used to remedy serious disturbances to the economy. The temporary framework adopted by the Commission in March 2020 sets out temporary State aid measures that the Commission will consider compatible with the State aid rules, allowing Member States full flexibility in supporting their coronavirus-stricken economies. The temporary framework is in place to address Member States' various needs more effectively. The framework initially focused on measures to ensure liquidity. Since early April, it has been widened to include measures to support the economy and coronavirus-related medical investment, research and production, as well as measures to ease the social and tax liabilities of companies and the self-employed and measures to subsidise workers' wages. This is an update of a briefing published on 27 April 2020.

Effects of 5G wireless communication on human health

11-02-2020

The fifth generation of telecommunications technologies, 5G, is fundamental to achieving a European gigabit society by 2025. The aim to cover all urban areas, railways and major roads with uninterrupted fifth generation wireless communication can only be achieved by creating a very dense network of antennas and transmitters. In other words, the number of higher frequency base stations and other devices will increase significantly. This raises the question as to whether there is a negative impact ...

The fifth generation of telecommunications technologies, 5G, is fundamental to achieving a European gigabit society by 2025. The aim to cover all urban areas, railways and major roads with uninterrupted fifth generation wireless communication can only be achieved by creating a very dense network of antennas and transmitters. In other words, the number of higher frequency base stations and other devices will increase significantly. This raises the question as to whether there is a negative impact on human health and environment from higher frequencies and billions of additional connections, which, according to research, will mean constant exposure for the whole population, including children. Whereas researchers generally consider such radio waves not to constitute a threat to the population, research to date has not addressed the constant exposure that 5G would introduce. Accordingly, a section of the scientific community considers that more research on the potential negative biological effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and 5G is needed, notably on the incidence of some serious human diseases. A further consideration is the need to bring together researchers from different disciplines, in particular medicine and physics or engineering, to conduct further research into the effects of 5G. The EU’s current provisions on exposure to wireless signals, the Council Recommendation on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz), is now 20 years old, and thus does not take the specific technical characteristics of 5G into account.

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The impact of Brexit on the level playing field in the area of taxation
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