27 May 2016

FEE Tax Policy Update 16 – 27 May




  • European Parliament TAXE II Committee report on tax rulings and corporate tax optimisation published – 17 May
  • EU Finance Ministers discuss taxation, ATAD agreement postponed for June – 25 May
  • G7 leaders issue a Declaration following their summit in Ise-Shima, Japan – 27 May


European Commission


Commission guidance: The basic EU VAT rules for electronically supplied services explained for micro businesses – 20 May

The European Commission has published guidance for microbusinesses on the basic EU VAT rules applicable to electronically supplied services. The guidance document provides clear and concise instructions for the applicability of specific provisions in a variety of different VAT situations that such microbusinesses may face, and includes an extensive section on how to comply with VAT obligations.




Opinion of the VAT Expert Group on the Action Plan on VAT – Creating a definitive regime – 20 May

The European Commission VAT Expert Group has issued its views on the VAT Action Plan published on 7 April (please refer to the FEE Tax Policy Update from 15 April for further details). Of particular interest, the opinion of the Group endorses a Single European VAT Area based on the destination principle, and calls on the Commission and Member States not to endorse Member State specific approaches to VAT (such as the local application of a generalised reverse charge mechanism) as this might hinder the development of a “coherent, harmonized and fraud proof VAT system” in the EU.





European Parliament


TAXE II report on tax rulings and corporate tax optimisation published, Committee hearing on the report – 17/24 May

The long-anticipated draft report of the TAXE II Committee has been published, titled tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect (same as the TAXE I report). The leading MEPs for this dossier are Michael Theurer (ALDE/GER) and Jeppe Kofod (S&D/DEN).

The report is non-legislative and commits neither the Commission or the Council to legislative action. It will however establish the Parliament’s positions on the issues covered, and will put further political pressure and legitimacy for action – especially in the context of the Panama Papers scandal. Of particular interest, the report calls for a separation of audit and tax advice services, for the prohibition to advice both public and private sectors within accountancy firms, and sanctions – including revoking the business license and imposing financial liability – on professionals and companies proven to be involved in the design of “aggressive tax planning” mechanisms (especially in “non-cooperative jurisdictions”). Other highlights of the report include the following:

The lack of transparency and non-compliance with control requirements, deficient knowledge of final beneficiaries and continued banking secrecy are obstacles to ending tax evasion and avoidance;

o    Public Country by Country Reporting (CBCR): welcomes the Commission proposal but regrets that the scope and threshold are below what the Parliament has called for;

  • Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) would provide a comprehensive solution to “harmful tax practices” within the EU;
  • Calls for concrete legislative action to address transfer pricing issues – the report argues that 70% of profit shifting takes place through transfer pricing;
  • Recommends the introduction of an EU-wide withholding tax;
  • Calls for a Minimum Effective Taxation (MET) clause in the Interests and Royalties Directive (IRD);
  • Patent boxes:

o    The link between the patent box and R&D is in most cases arbitrary and/or artificial;

o    Calls on the Commission to put forward legislative proposals on patent boxes that go beyond the OECD Modified Nexus Approach, with the view of preventing the misuse of patent boxes and to ensure that they are linked to “genuine economic activity”;

  • Whistleblowers:

o    Protection of whistleblowers must be legally guaranteed in the EU, including a refund system to prevent double taxation;

o    Calls on the Commission to propose a clear legal framework to this effect;

  • A new Union Tax Policy Coherence and Coordination Centre (TPCCC):

o    Its purpose would be to monitor Member States’ tax policies, ensure that no new “harmful tax measures” are introduced in Member States, monitoring compliance with the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, and ensuring cooperation between tax administrations;

  • In the context of the European Semester, the Commission should introduce a reporting requirement for Member States to indicate what measures they have taken to ensure effective taxation, to fight against “harmful cross-border tax practices” and to strengthen tax administrations;
  • Calls for an EU register of beneficial ownership;
  • Calls for a global assets register of all assets held by individuals, companies and all entities such as trusts and foundations, to which tax authorities would have full access.

A first exchange of views on the report also took place. During the hearing, MEPs from across political Groups welcomed the report and its recommendations. However, a high number of amendments should be anticipated nevertheless, as significant political differences are bound to emerge on the specific provisions. In terms of next steps, the deadline for amendments has been postponed until 31 May, whilst a TAXE II Committee vote is scheduled for 21 June.




ECON Committee hearing and vote on ATAD opinion – 23/24 May

The ECON Committee of the European Parliament has voted on its legally non-binding opinion on the Commission proposal for an Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD). The dossier was under the leadership of the MEP Hugues Bayet (S&D/BEL), and introduced a number of changes to the Commission proposal. The final vote was 20 in favour, 15 against and 21 abstentions. The EPP Group (centre-Right) voted blank due to the number of amendments by the Left Groups.

Of particular interest, an amendment calling for reforming the Audit Regulation in order to ensure that no conflicts of interest occur between the provision of audit and tax advisory services passed the final vote. In addition, the draft report calls for a minimum EU corporate tax rate of 15%, and on interest deductibility the limit is set at 20% or €2 million (30% and €1 million on the Commission proposal). In terms of next steps, the European Parliament Plenary will vote on the report on 7 June.




ECON Committee discussion on definitive VAT regime report – 24 May

The ECON Committee of the European Parliament has held a first exchange of views on the draft own-initiative report on the definitive VAT regime and combatting VAT fraud. The report has been prepared by the MEP Werner Langen (EPP/GER) (for further details on the report, please refer to the FEE Tax Policy Update from 13 May).

During the ECON debate, a number of MEPs highlighted that the highest priority of the Commission VAT reform should be to tackle VAT fraud. Several representatives across political Groups moreover criticised the unanimity rule in the Council on VAT and on taxation in general, defended the reverse charge mechanism as a viable option, and overall expressed particular concerns for SMEs, emphasising that the VAT system must be made simpler, less costly and easier to comply with. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Langen endorsed the prospect of organising a Committee hearing on the potential impacts of a reverse charge system. In terms of next steps, the deadline for amendments is 31 May. The vote in the ECON Committee is scheduled for 13 July, whilst a Plenary vote is expected for 5 September.


MEP Questions & Answers


Panama Papers and EU action against tax havens – 12 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Catherine Bearder (ALDE/UK) with regard to EU action against tax havens. In her question, Ms. Bearder refers to the Panama Papers scandal, and asks the Commission what measures it is planning to take against “tax havens” and to tackle tax evasion more broadly. In his reply, Commissioner Moscovici confirms that the Commission is considering measures addressing, amongst other things, the role of “tax advisors and financial intermediaries”. With regard to a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions and sanctions against them, the Commissioner confirms that the aim is to have these ready by the end of 2017.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=P-2016-002811&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=P-2016-002811&language=EN


Panama Papers – 12 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Hugues Bayet (S&D/BEL) with regard to the Panama Papers scandal. In his question, Mr. Bayet argues that in the wake of the Panama Papers, the EU needs to reform its tax system. He consequently asks the Commission what it will do to address the issue, what is the state of play with the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), and whether it will consider establishing a fairer “common European tax system”. In his reply, Commissioner Moscovici confirms that the Commission is looking into the role of tax advisors, and is currently conducting an impact assessment on the CCCTB, which he argues will play a crucial role in addressing limitations in the current EU tax system.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=P-2016-002731&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=P-2016-002731&language=EN


VAT – 13 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Jane Collins (EFDD/UK) with regard to VAT. In her question, Ms. Collins argues that the 5% VAT on tampons is in contradiction of gender equality. In her reply, Commissioner Jourova (justice, consumers, gender equality) states that the policy on reduced rates is a Member State competence, within the frames of EU law.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-001601&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-001601&language=EN


VAT on digital books, newspapers and periodicals – 13 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Henna Virkkunen (EPP/FIN) with regard to VAT on digital publications. In her question, Ms. Virkkunen asks the Commission what action has it taken to harmonise VAT treatment of electronic books, periodicals and newspapers and their printed counterparts, and when will the Commission submit a proposal enabling Member States to apply reduced VAT rates on digital publication. In his reply, Commissioner Moscovici confirms that the Commission will put forward such a proposal by the end of 2016, and the Commission is planning to amend the VAT Directive in a way that Member States could align the VAT treatment of digital and printed publications.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-002169&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-002169&language=EN


Tax evasion by multinationals – 17 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Lorenzo Fontana (ENF/ITA) with regard to tax evasion by multinationals. In his questions, Mr. Fontana refers to alleged tax evasion by Google and Microsoft in Italy, and asks the Commission what it is doing in order to address such cases. In his reply, Commissioner Moscovici states that corporate tax collection or compliance checks are first and foremost the responsibility of Member States.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-002008&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-002008&language=EN


Tax credits for growth in Hungary – 18 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Tibor Szanyi (S&D/HUN) with regard to tax credits for growth in Hungary. In his question, Mr. Szanyi refers to a new Hungarian scheme for multinationals allowing them to defer and portion their tax payments to the government under certain conditions. He therefore asks the Commission whether it will investigate the matter. In her reply, Commissioner Vestager states that Hungary has not notified the Commission on the measures, nor has the Commission received any complaints about them constituting an unfair competitive advantage. The Commission has, however, asked the Commission to provide further details on the measure.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-002112&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-002112&language=EN


Corporation tax relief for sport in Hungary – 18 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Peter Niedermuller (S&D/HUN) with regard to a tax relief for sport in Hungary. In his question, Mr. Niedermuller asks the Commission whether it will take measures to ensure that the tax relief for sport in the country is in line with its intended purpose. In her reply, Commissioner Vestager states that the Commission cannot confirm whether or not it will look into the matter.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-002294&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-002294&language=EN


Relocation of businesses to Poland with a tax subsidy – 18 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Olle Ludvigsson (S&D/SWE) with regard to business relocation to Poland with a tax subsidy. In his question, Mr. Ludvigsson argues that a tax subsidy scheme in Poland is at least partially incentivising companies to relocate there, and consequently asks the Commission whether this could constitute illegal state aid. In her reply, Commissioner Vestager states that the Commission state aid rules include provisions preventing relocation arrangements fostered by tax incentives, and confirms that the Commission will look into the Polish case.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=P-2016-003232&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=P-2016-003232&language=EN


Multinationals and state aid – 19 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Gerolf Annemans (ENF/BEL) with regard to multinationals and state aid. In his question, Mr. Annemans refers to the Commission decision ordering Belgium to recover €700 million in taxes from approximately 35 multinationals, and asks the Commission whether Belgium has issued more rulings than other Member States, whilst arguing that the state aid investigations may be an infringement of national sovereignty. In her reply, Commissioner Vestager confirms that certain Member States such as Belgium have issued more tax rulings than others, and defends the state aid investigations on the grounds that specific types of tax rulings may provide an unfair competitive advantage to certain companies.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-001693&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-001693&language=EN


Follow-up to anti-fraud agreements in the fight against tax havens – 19 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Monica Macovei (ECR/ROM) with regard to anti-fraud agreements in the fight against tax havens. In her question, Ms. Macovei asks the Commission whether the recently finalised anti-tax fraud agreements signed with the Principality of Andorra, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and San Marino have been properly implemented. In his reply, Commissioner Moscovici provides an overview of the status of the anti-fraud agreement for each of the mentioned jurisdictions.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-002150&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-002150&language=EN


Activities of European banks in tax havens – 20 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner (ECR/FIN) with regard to the role of banks in “tax havens”. In her question, Ms. Ruohonen-Lerner discusses the role of banks in enabling tax avoidance, and asks the Commission whether it will take action against banks promoting such practices. In his reply, Commissioner Moscovici states that the Panama Papers have revealed how tax advisors are helping taxpayers to conceal money offshore. The Commission will therefore assess whether there are ways to introduce “more effective disincentives for banks, advisors and enablers in general”.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=P-2016-002708&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=P-2016-002708&language=EN


Links between the ‘Panama Papers’ and the Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy – 20 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by a group of Greens-EFA MEPs with regard to the links of Commissioner Canete (climate action, energy) to the Panama Papers scandal. The MEPs ask whether the Commission will further investigate these links. In his reply, the Commission President Juncker confirms that the Commission has received the necessary evidence and explanations from Commissioner Canete, and consequently there is no need for further investigations.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=P-2016-002753&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=P-2016-002753&language=EN


VAT fraud in the EU – 24 May

The European Commission has replied to a question asked by the MEP Zigmantas Balcytis (S&D/LIT) with regard to VAT fraud in the EU. In his question, Mr. Balcytis asks the Commission whether it will establish an “adequate system” intended for VAT data collection from Member States, and whether strengthening OLAF’s powers is necessary in order to better fight VAT fraud. In his reply, Commissioner Moscovici notably points out that the Commission does publish data on the VAT gap, and has established a working group to look into the methodologies and other details of VAT data collection.

Question: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=E-2016-002245&format=XML&language=EN

Answer: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-002245&language=EN



Council – ECOFIN: Finance Ministers’ meeting on 25 May


Council conclusions on the Commission proposal for an External Strategy on tax and measures against tax treaty abuse adopted – 25 May

The EU Finance Ministers have approved conclusions on the Commission Communication for an EU External Strategy on tax. The document is the outcome of past weeks of negotiations on the preferred approach for common EU action against third countries, including the establishment of a common EU-list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. Of particular interest, the Conclusions include a paragraph on tax advice, calling for legislative measures to further “disincentivise” the provision of tax avoidance and evasion advice. It is probable that at the very least advice promoting, enabling or inspiring the use of jurisdictions that will end up on the final common list of non-cooperative jurisdictions will be subject to some form of sanctions.

It is well-known that the European Parliament has been actively calling for measures against the sector, and that after the Panama Papers scandal the Commission is considering action as well. The draft Conclusions confirm that Member States are strongly supportive of legislative action.




Council approves extension of 15% minimum VAT and CBCR between tax administrations – 25 May

As expected, the EU Finance Ministers have approved the Commission proposal for Country by Country Reporting (CBCR) between tax administrations, as an amendment to the Administrative Cooperation Directive. There were no great surprises, as Member States agreed on the final form of the text with minor amendments to the initial Commission proposal (see FEE Tax Policy Update from 18 March for further details). For the same occasion, the Finance Ministers also agreed to extend the minimum standard VAT rate of 15% until December 2017 (see details on the Commission proposal on the FEE Tax Policy Update from 18 December for further details).


Council issues views on the VAT Action Plan – 25 May

The EU Finance Ministers have issued conclusions on the VAT Action Plan proposed by the Commission in April (see FEE Tax Policy Update from 15 April for further details). The Council position provides a mandate for the Commission to pursue the legislative initiatives it listed in the Action Plan.

The Council conclusions entail a number of items of particular interest. For example, conclusions express support for improving administrative cooperation between tax administrations; highlights the potential usefulness of temporary derogations to the VAT system in order to gather data on options (such as the pilot project on a generalised reverse charge mechanism requested by Czech Republic but seen with scepticism by the Commission); emphasises that the ultimate objective should be that cross-border VAT compliance costs are brought closer to the levels of those in domestic trade whilst being mindful of fraud; expresses (unsurprisingly) support for the destination principle, but considers a cross-border reverse charge as a viable option; and finally, with regard to the proposed reform of the VAT rates system, the conclusions call on the Commission to present by the end of 2016 a legislative proposal on  VAT rates for e-publications, as well as a legislative proposal to enable reduced or zero VAT rates for women’s sanitary products as soon as possible (this is a current concern in the UK, and the call can be interpreted as an effort to support the British Government’s efforts against a Brexit).




Deal on ATAD postponed for the June ECOFIN – 25 May

The EU Finance Ministers have decided to postpone their endorsement of the Commission proposal for an Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD). The Ministers are to decide on the matter in the next ECOFIN meeting on 17 June.

The discussion between Ministers brought into light the still existing although increasingly narrowed down differences between Member States. The greatest issues emerged with regard to the switch-over clause and CFC rules. On switch-over clause, a number of Member States questioned its meaningfulness and called for excluding it from ATAD altogether. The only countries defending keeping it in the Directive were the Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark, Greece, Croatia and Portugal. On CFC rules, a number of countries called for it to apply only for third countries, or if within the EU only to “wholly artificial arrangements” (in line with the original Commission proposal from 28 January). These included Ireland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Latvia, Denmark, Belgium and Estonia. A number of countries also expressed concerns about suspicions that the Commission is planning to propose minimum corporate tax rates in the EU. The Commission however insisted that this is not the case, and the Presidency will include a clause safeguarding against such a possibility into the next ATAD compromise text. And finally, some Member States still called for ATAD to be aligned as closely as possible with the BEPS recommendations, including the UK, Luxembourg and Cyprus. It is interesting to note that Germany has toned down its earlier calls to separate ATAD into two parts – one dealing with the implementation of the BEPS recommendations, and the other for the rest. Commissioner Moscovici emphasised that although he would have preferred a different approach on some of the provisions (for example maintaining the grand-fathering clause for existing loans in interest deductibility), the Commission is still happy to support an agreement that is substantive and goes beyond the BEPS recommendations, in order for the EU to lead the way in the global fight against tax avoidance.






Court of Justice of the EU


Preliminary ruling on VAT exemption for transactions concerning payments and transfers – 26 May

The Second Chamber of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has issued a preliminary ruling on the application of VAT exemptions on transactions related to payments and transfers. The case code is C‑130/15. In the ruling, the Court establishes that the VAT exemption normally applicable to transactions concerning payments and transfers does not apply to services described as “processing of payment by debit or credit card”. The case concerned the refusal of the UK’s HMRC to reimburse VAT which the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) claimed it paid unduly on the supply of certain services.




Preliminary ruling on the conditions for granting pensioners’ tax credit – 26 May

The Tenth Chamber of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has issued a preliminary ruling on the conditions for granting pensioners’ tax credit. The case code is C‑300/15. In the ruling, the Court establishes that eligibility for pensioners’ tax credit should not be limited to only those who have a tax deduction form.




Preliminary ruling on an exemption from inheritance tax relating to the primary residence – 26 May

The Seventh Chamber of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has issued a preliminary ruling on a Greek legislation that provides an exemption from inheritance tax relating to the primary residence on the condition that the heir is permanently resident in Greece. The case code is C‑244/15. In the ruling, the Court establishes that Greece is in breach of EU rules due to its law described above, as the inheritance tax exemption applies only to EU nationals who are resident in Greece.




Preliminary ruling on an annual tax on undertakings for collective investment

The Second Chamber of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has issued a preliminary ruling on penalties applicable to collective investment undertakings governed by foreign law and an annual tax on undertakings for collective investment. The case code is C‑48/15. In the ruling, the court argues amongst other things that legislation imposing an annual tax on collective investment undertakings governed by foreign law is in line with the relevant EU rules.






London Anti-Corruption Summit comes to an end – 13 May

The London Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the British Prime Minister David Cameron has come to a conclusion. Public Finance International, amongst others, argue that the results of the Summit are fairly slim, with only limited endorsement of key measures such as greater transparency on beneficial ownership. Some key jurisdictions such as Panama and the British Virgin Islands did not attend, thus potentially undermining the effectiveness of the agreed measures.

A Communique signed by the attending jurisdictions was also published in the Summit’s aftermath. Of particular interest, the Communique states that those who “facilitate tax evasion” should be held accountable, and expresses support for efforts to tackle “individuals and corporations” that engage in such action in the remits of OECD’s work. Moreover, the Communique welcomes OECD’s objective to establish objective criteria for the identification of “non-cooperative jurisdictions”.





 “Sweden Issues Tax Avoidance Action Plan” – 16 May

According to Tax News, Sweden has published a national Tax Avoidance Action Plan, which amongst other things launches an inquiry into whether tax advisors should be requested to inform Swedish tax authorities on new tax planning schemes. The Swedish Government argues that the measure would enable the national tax administration to better address new abusive planning schemes. The Action Plan moreover calls on companies to add tax issues on board agendas.




“UK’s Tax Simplication Office Consults On Future Role” – 16 May

According to Tax News, the UK Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has published a consultation on proposals for its future role and development. As stated in the article, OTS was initially established on a temporal basis in 2010 in order to advice British authorities on simplifying the tax system. A new Finance Bill from this year turned OTS into a permanent body with a broader mandate, hence the launching of its consultation.




 “UK Interest Deductibility Rules Could Increase Business Burdens”

According to Tax News, KPMG has argued that planned new rules in the UK on the tax deductibility of interest could pose additional administrative and financial burdens on businesses. The British Government is planning to cap interest relief to 30% of taxable EBITDA. Moreover, a group-ratio rule will be established.




“IMF Urges Poland To Ditch Bank Tax” – 18 May

According to Tax News, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on Poland to put an end to its bank tax, which would apply a monthly 0,0366% tax on certain financial institutions whose assets exceed a threshold of $1 billion, $50 million or $500 million depending of the type of institution in question. IMF is concerned that the measure could endanger credit supply and “increase financial vulnerabilities”. It consequently calls on Poland to replace the tax with a more “growth-friendly” approach. Polish authorities were hoping to use income from the bank tax to fund a new child benefit scheme.




“Google offices in Paris raided by tax authorities” – 24 May

As reported notably by the Guardian, French investigators have raided Google’s headquarters in Paris as a part of their investigation into allegations that the company has been involved in aggravated financial fraud and money laundering. In particular, according to magistrates Google may have conducted tax evasion by not declaring all of its activities in France.




G7 leaders issue a Declaration following their summit in Ise-Shima, Japan – 27 May

The leaders of the G7 member countries have met at a summit in Ise-Shima, Japan, to discuss major global economic challenges and potential solutions to them. Topics covered ranged from migration and trade to anti-corruption, health, climate and improving the situation of women across the globe. With regard to tax, the leaders focused on transparency and measures to improve the global tax landscape. In the post-summit G7 Declaration, they call for a consistent implementation of the BEPS recommendations and the global Standard on Automatic Exchange of Information, the establishment of common criteria to identify “non-cooperative jurisdictions”, and transparency of beneficial ownership information through global standards.






Global tax and transparency: We have the tools, now we must make them work – 24 May

Pascal Saint-Amans, the Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, has issued his views on further improving tax transparency at a global level. In the article, Mr. Saint-Amans lists progress made by OECD and the G20 in strengthening transparency, including the global Common Reporting Standard (CRS) for Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI). He however argues that much work remains to be done in implementation, that the Panama Papers leak has demonstrated the need to maintain momentum, and that additional efforts for example in the realm of beneficial ownership transparency must be achieved.




State Aid


“Ireland, UK split over Margrethe Vestager’s tax decisions” – 18 May

According to Politico, Ireland and the UK have taken opposing views regarding a court challenge to the European Commission’s efforts to tackle multinationals’ tax optimisation practices from a state aid perspective. Ireland supports an appeal against the Commission ruling ordering the recovery of €25-30 million from Fiat by Luxembourg. The UK in turn supports the Commission decision, and additionally defends Commissioner Vestager in the case of Starbucks in the Netherlands. The General Court of the EU is expected to issue its verdict on the legality of Commissioner Vestager’s tax approach by mid-2017.




“EU aims to rule on Amazon’s Luxembourg tax deal by July” – 19 May

According to Reuters, the European Commission is preparing to issue a ruling on a tax arrangement between Amazon and Luxembourg by July. According to the article’s sources, the Commission could order the recovery of approximately €400 million of tax income from the company. The ruling was issued in 2003, and the Commission has been the case for almost two years.




European Commission Notice on the notion of State aid – 19 May

The European Commission has issued additional guidance as to the criteria and definitions of state aid. From a tax perspective, the lengthy document entails detailed guidance on tax measures, tax amnesties and tax rulings and settlements, amongst other things. According to the Commission, the purpose of the document is to enable public authorities and companies to better identify when public support measures can be undertaken without having to be approved under EU state aid provisions.




“Luxembourg denies report it offers unwritten tax rulings” – 24 May

According to Reuters, Luxembourg has denied allegations according to which it has been granting tax rulings to multinationals verbally, not in written, in order to hide them from other EU Member States. The allegations are based on the Belgian newspaper De Tijd, which had contacted “tax experts” with alleged knowledge on the Luxembourg’s new practice. The Luxembourgian authorities, however, argue that oral rulings would not make sense given that the purpose of tax rulings is to provide companies with legal certainty.




Other News


E-commerce imports into Europe: VAT and customs treatment – 4 May

According to a new report published by Copenhagen Economics, a total of €1,3 billion in public income is lost each year in the EU due to a lacking collection of VAT and customs duties for goods purchased online and imported by national postal services of EU Member States. The report argues that VAT is collected on only 35% of items imported via Postal operators.




“US corporate giants hoarding more than a trillion dollars – 20 May

As reported notably by the Guardian, largest US companies have cash reserves amounting to a grand total of $1.7 trillion, with the five largest cash holders (Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Oracle) holding approximately $504 billion. Two-thirds of the grand total is being held offshore. The data is based on calculations of Moody’s, one of the largest global rating agencies.




“US Urged To Oppose BEPS Project” – 20 May

According to Tax News, 20 “tax advocacy organisations” have called on the US Congress to oppose the OECD BEPS recommendations. The organisations, led by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, argue that the recommendations are harmful to US corporations and undermine tax competition.






31/05/2016, International Cross-Border Tax Audits, International Tax Center, Brussels.

01/06/2016, The priorities of the Slovak Republic Presidency of the Council, EPC, Brussels.

07/06/2016, State aid and taxation: a change of direction? ICAEW, Brussels.

15/06/2016, 3rd Global Tax Policy Conference, Maastricht University, Maastricht.

09/2016, Bruegel Annual Meetings, Bruegel, Brussels.

17/11/2016, Tax Day, Federation of European Accountants, Brussels.

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Consultation responseEC’s consultation on new EU system for withholding taxes

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UpdateTax Policy

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UpdateAudit Policy

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