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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against tax fraud

28-06-2019

Tax policy, and the fight against tax fraud, have gained particular exposure over the past five years as a result of the light shed by repeated tax leaks and the related journalistic investigations. This has added to the increasing lack of acceptance of damaging tax practices, especially since the recession and the resulting budget constraints. The fight against tax fraud aims at recovering revenue not paid to the public authorities. It also aims at ensuring that fraudsters do not have an advantage ...

Tax policy, and the fight against tax fraud, have gained particular exposure over the past five years as a result of the light shed by repeated tax leaks and the related journalistic investigations. This has added to the increasing lack of acceptance of damaging tax practices, especially since the recession and the resulting budget constraints. The fight against tax fraud aims at recovering revenue not paid to the public authorities. It also aims at ensuring that fraudsters do not have an advantage over compliant taxpayers, thus ensuring tax fairness between taxpayers. Unpaid taxes result in reduced resources for national and European Union (EU) budgets. Though the scale of unpaid taxes is by nature difficult to estimate, available assessments hint at large amounts of resources lost to public finances. Citizens' evaluation of the EU's current involvement in the fight against tax fraud has improved, but the majority of citizens in each Member State still share expectations for even more intensive involvement. Despite this, there is still a considerable gap between citizens' evaluations and expectations of EU involvement. There is still room for improvement in addressing the preferences and expectations of EU citizens. The fight against tax fraud is shared between Member States and the EU. Coming under tax policy, it has remained closely linked to Member State sovereignty, protected by the requirement for unanimity and a special legislative procedure which keeps tax matters firmly under the Council's control. This has been the case since the Union's beginnings, in spite of the proposed limited changes to the tax framework. As shortcomings have been more clearly identified, the discussion has been opened anew in speeches on the State of the Union delivered by the President of the European Commission before the European Parliament. Fighting tax fraud covers not only actions against illegal behaviour, but also the deterrence of fraud and measures to foster compliance. As a result it involves a large reboot of tax provisions, to upgrade them for the scale and features of tax fraud as it is and as it evolves. In spite of the notable deliveries during the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, there remains work ahead, namely because all provisions need to be implemented, enforced, monitored and, if need be, updated, to keep up with the versatility of tax fraud and the pace of digital evolution globally. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Stronger administrative cooperation in the VAT field

15-01-2019

Value added tax (VAT) is a very efficient consumption tax and an important source of revenue for both national and European budgets. However, the rules governing common EU VAT system are 25 years old. A substantial review was initiated from 2016 onwards in order to update it and make it less vulnerable to fraud. The reform of the VAT framework towards a definitive VAT system for intra-Community business-to-business (B2B) transactions was planned in several consecutive steps. The Commission proposal ...

Value added tax (VAT) is a very efficient consumption tax and an important source of revenue for both national and European budgets. However, the rules governing common EU VAT system are 25 years old. A substantial review was initiated from 2016 onwards in order to update it and make it less vulnerable to fraud. The reform of the VAT framework towards a definitive VAT system for intra-Community business-to-business (B2B) transactions was planned in several consecutive steps. The Commission proposal to amend Regulation 904/2010 (Regulation on VAT administrative cooperation) was initially put forward on October 2017, as part of the ‘definitive VAT system package' and was itself amended on 30 November 2017. The resulting Regulation 2018/1541 was adopted on 2 October 2018, and applies in full as of 1 January 2020. It introduces the concept of the 'certified taxable person' and measures aimed at enhancing cooperation between Member States, improving cooperation between tax authorities and law enforcement bodies and addressing cross-border refund issues. Second edition of a briefing originally drafted by Ana Claudia Alfieri. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Reduced VAT rate for e-publications

19-12-2018

The fact that print and digital publications have been subject to separate value added tax (VAT) rates essentially means that products that are considered to be comparable and substitutable have been treated differently to one another. This situation resulted from rules which, on the one hand, allowed Member States to apply reduced rates to printed publications, but on the other excluded this possibility for digital publications. In addition, the evolution in the VAT framework means that VAT on digital ...

The fact that print and digital publications have been subject to separate value added tax (VAT) rates essentially means that products that are considered to be comparable and substitutable have been treated differently to one another. This situation resulted from rules which, on the one hand, allowed Member States to apply reduced rates to printed publications, but on the other excluded this possibility for digital publications. In addition, the evolution in the VAT framework means that VAT on digital services should be levied in the Member State where the consumer is based (thus protecting the single market from application of different rates within a Member State because of the different location of providers). The question of broadening the possibility to apply reduced rates to all publications, be they print or digital, was addressed as part of the VAT digital single market package. The amendment to the VAT directive was adopted by the Council on 6 November 2018, after the European Parliament had delivered its opinion on 1 June 2017. The new rules allow Member States to apply the reduced rate to e-publications, as from 4 December 2018.

Customs 2020 and Fiscalis 2020 (2014-2020)

13-12-2018

The Customs 2020 programme was established by Regulation No 1294/2013 and is aimed at supporting the functioning of the customs union. The Fiscalis 2020 programme was established by Regulation No 1286/2013 and is aimed at improving the operation of the taxation systems in the internal market and supporting cooperation between the EU Member States.

The Customs 2020 programme was established by Regulation No 1294/2013 and is aimed at supporting the functioning of the customs union. The Fiscalis 2020 programme was established by Regulation No 1286/2013 and is aimed at improving the operation of the taxation systems in the internal market and supporting cooperation between the EU Member States.

Corporate taxation of a significant digital presence

07-12-2018

Despite achieving unprecedented growth and profit rates, the digital economy seems to be relatively undertaxed when compared to more traditional 'bricks and mortar' companies. The current rules are based on the physical presence of taxpayers and assets, and there is a general understanding that they are not suited to taxing a digital economy characterised by reliance on intangible assets and ubiquitous services whose location is often hard to determine. International bodies are currently working ...

Despite achieving unprecedented growth and profit rates, the digital economy seems to be relatively undertaxed when compared to more traditional 'bricks and mortar' companies. The current rules are based on the physical presence of taxpayers and assets, and there is a general understanding that they are not suited to taxing a digital economy characterised by reliance on intangible assets and ubiquitous services whose location is often hard to determine. International bodies are currently working on how to adapt tax rules to the digital reality. The European Commission adopted a proposal in March 2018. It would allow taxation on the basis of digital rather than physical presence linked with the EU, for digital activities generating turnover of over €7 million, and with more than 100 000 users or 3 000 business-to-business contracts annually. The proposal has met with mixed reactions from stakeholders. Although there is growing recognition that digital companies should pay similar tax rates to traditional companies, some consider the initiative to be premature given the ongoing search for a compromise at the level of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which is thought of as the permanent solution. The report by Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) proposes to widen the scope and reach of the tax, and increase clarity for tax authorities and companies. The plenary vote on the report is expected during the December session. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

More flexible VAT rates

25-10-2018

Value added tax (VAT) is an important source of revenue for national governments and the European Union (EU) budget and, from an economic point of view, a very efficient consumption tax. However, the rules governing value added tax as applied to intra-Community trade are 25 years old and the current common EU VAT system is both complicated and vulnerable to fraud. Businesses doing cross-border trade face high compliance costs and the administrative burden of national tax administrations is also excessive ...

Value added tax (VAT) is an important source of revenue for national governments and the European Union (EU) budget and, from an economic point of view, a very efficient consumption tax. However, the rules governing value added tax as applied to intra-Community trade are 25 years old and the current common EU VAT system is both complicated and vulnerable to fraud. Businesses doing cross-border trade face high compliance costs and the administrative burden of national tax administrations is also excessive. The reform towards the definitive system is planned in several consecutive steps and will take some years. In the meantime, this proposal will amend the VAT Directive (Directive 2006/112/EC) and reform the rules by which Member States set VAT rates. The reform will enter into force when the definitive system is in place; it will give more flexibility to Member States to set VAT rates and will end the current arrangements and their many ad-hoc derogations. Parliament has adopted its non-binding opinion on the proposal, which is now in the hands of the Council. Second edition of a briefing originally drafted by Ana Claudia Alfieri. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Tax collection in Greece: State of play - June 2018

19-06-2018

This briefing provides an overview of taxation developments in Greece, based on the following recent data: (1) latest publicly available facts and figures from the Greek tax administration, Eurostat and the OECD; (2) progress on tax reforms as assessed by the Commission in its latest publicly available reports under the ESM programme for Greece.

This briefing provides an overview of taxation developments in Greece, based on the following recent data: (1) latest publicly available facts and figures from the Greek tax administration, Eurostat and the OECD; (2) progress on tax reforms as assessed by the Commission in its latest publicly available reports under the ESM programme for Greece.

Rates of value added tax

25-04-2018

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, submitted on 18 January 2018 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. The proposal amends Directive 2006/112/EC (hereafter the VAT Directive), which sets out the rules governing the current temporary VAT system (dating from 1993), which are currently based on the principle of origin. When the Council adopted ...

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, submitted on 18 January 2018 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. The proposal amends Directive 2006/112/EC (hereafter the VAT Directive), which sets out the rules governing the current temporary VAT system (dating from 1993), which are currently based on the principle of origin. When the Council adopted the common system of value added tax in 1967, the commitment was made to create a definitive VAT system operating within the European Community.

Value added tax: Administrative cooperation and combating fraud

15-02-2018

This proposal was part of a package of proposed EU legislation that aims to modernise the VAT regime for cross-border B2C e-commerce. It provides the basis for the underlying IT infrastructure and the necessary cooperation by Member States to ensure the success of the extension of the mini-one-stop-shop (MOSS). It contains provisions relating to – among other things – the exchange of information between competent authorities of Member States, and the control of transactions and taxable persons, as ...

This proposal was part of a package of proposed EU legislation that aims to modernise the VAT regime for cross-border B2C e-commerce. It provides the basis for the underlying IT infrastructure and the necessary cooperation by Member States to ensure the success of the extension of the mini-one-stop-shop (MOSS). It contains provisions relating to – among other things – the exchange of information between competent authorities of Member States, and the control of transactions and taxable persons, as well as Member States granting to the Commission access to statistical information contained in their electronic systems. The regulation, significantly amended, was adopted by the Council – after consulting the European Parliament – on 5 December 2017. It is accompanied by Council Directive 2017/2455, which amends Directive 2006/112/EC and Directive 2009/132/EC as regards certain value added tax obligations for supplies of services and distance sales of goods; see our separate briefing on this dossier – 2016/0370(CNS). Final edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Definitive VAT system and fighting VAT fraud

03-10-2017

Council Directive 2006/112/EC lays down the rules applicable to the common system of value added tax (VAT). Among other issues, the Council Directive establishes a temporary VAT system based on 'the origin principle', which requires that a VAT rate applicable to transactions is determined by the Member State of the seller's location. The temporary VAT system, established by the directive was supposed to be replaced by a definitive system. This however has not happened yet despite the latest VAT system ...

Council Directive 2006/112/EC lays down the rules applicable to the common system of value added tax (VAT). Among other issues, the Council Directive establishes a temporary VAT system based on 'the origin principle', which requires that a VAT rate applicable to transactions is determined by the Member State of the seller's location. The temporary VAT system, established by the directive was supposed to be replaced by a definitive system. This however has not happened yet despite the latest VAT system having been set up approximately two decades ago. The temporary nature of the current VAT system brings several challenges, including the fact that it is more susceptible to VAT fraud. The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to update Council Directive 2006/112/EC to establish a definitive VAT system. Similarly, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee have recommended updating the legislation. Representatives of various stakeholder groups have also meanwhile voiced concerns regarding this piece of legislation. It is expected that the European Commission will submit a legislative proposal amending this directive in October 2017.

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