EU and Tax Avoidance: Tax Transparency Package Released

By Robert Robillard - 19 March 2015

This blogpost originally appeared on rbrt.ca.

From the European Commission website:

“European Commission – Press release

Combatting corporate tax avoidance: Commission presents Tax Transparency Package

Brussels, 18 March 2015

The European Commission today presented 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. It also undermines fair burden-sharing among tax-payers and fair competition between businesses. Companies rely on the complexity of tax rules and the lack of cooperation between Member States to shift profits and minimise their taxes. Therefore, boosting transparency and cooperation is vital in the battle against aggressive tax planning and abusive tax practices.”

Also included in the Press release:

“The central component of today’s 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. It is at the discretion of the Member State to decide whether a tax ruling might be relevant to another EU country. As a result, Member States are often unaware of cross-border tax rulings issued elsewhere in the EU which may impact their own tax bases. 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.”

The complete Press release is available here.

The OECD has welcomed the initiative and considers that it is aligned with the BEPS Initiative as can be seen here.

Robert Robillard, Ph.D., CPA, CGA, Adm.A., MBA, M.Sc. Econ., M.A.P.
Senior Partner, RBRT Inc.
514-742-8086; robertrobillard “at” rbrt.ca
www.rbrt.ca

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