European Commission announces Tax Transparency measures

Europe - shutterstoc#D909E6The European Commission has announced a package of tax transparency measures as part of its ambitious agenda to tackle corporate tax avoidance and harmful tax competition in the EU.

A key element of this Tax Transparency Package is a proposal to introduce the automatic exchange of information between Member States on their tax rulings.

Corporate tax avoidance is thought to deprive EU Member States’ public budgets of billions of euros a year. The EC’s Tax Transparency Package aims to ensure that Member States are equipped with the information they need to protect their tax bases and effectively target companies that try to escape paying their fair share of taxes.

“Everyone has to pay their fair share of tax. This applies to multinationals as to everyone else. With this proposal on the automatic exchange of information, tax authorities would be able to better identify loopholes or duplication of tax between Member States. In the coming months, we will put forward concrete actions to tackle such loopholes or overlaps. We are committed to following up on our promises with real, credible and fair action,” said Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue.

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Tolerance has reached rock-bottom for companies that avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and for the regimes that enable them to do this. We have to rebuild the link between where companies really make their profits and where they are taxed. To do this, Member States need to open up and work together. That is what today’s Tax Transparency Package aims to achieve.”

 

Transparency on Tax Rulings

The central component of the Transparency Package is a legislative proposal to improve cooperation between Member States in terms on their cross-border tax rulings and it aims to mark the start of a new era of transparency. Currently, Member States share very little information with one another about their tax rulings. The lack of transparency on tax rulings is being exploited by certain companies in order to artificially reduce their tax contribution.

To redress this situation, the Commission proposes to remove this margin for discretion and interpretation. Member States will now be required to automatically exchange information on their tax rulings

The Commission proposes to set a strict timeline: every three months, national tax authorities will have to send a short report to all other Member States on all cross-border tax rulings that they have issued. Member States will then be able to ask for more detailed information on a particular ruling.

The automatic exchange of information on tax rulings will enable Member States to detect certain abusive tax practices by companies and take the necessary action in response. Moreover, it should also encourage healthier tax competition, as tax authorities will be less likely to offer selective tax treatment to companies once this is open to scrutiny by their peers.