Tax Policy

April 2020

  • European Commission’s tax timeline for now unchanged despite corona context
  • OECD publishes new report on tax and fiscal measures under corona
  • Germany’s Olaf Scholz: corona crisis should not slow down efforts on international tax reform

European Commission

Stephen Quest to leave DG TAXUD

From 1 May, the current Director-General of DG TAXUD, Stephen Quest, will move to become the Director-General of the Commission’s in-house science service, Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Mr. Quest has been at DG TAXUD since 2016, spearheading most of the key tax proposals that came out of the European Commission in the last term.

His successor as the new DG TAXUD Director-General is still to be confirmed.

European Commission still on track for its tax initiatives this year, despite corona

According to a draft revised Work Programme 2020 seen by Accountancy Europe, the Commission’s expected tax initiatives are still on schedule despite the corona crisis.

The Commission is currently revising the 2020 schedule for its planned initiatives, given the pressure and difficulties that the current corona outbreak is causing on its functioning. However, the Action Plan for the fight against tax evasion and the Communication on business taxation for the 21st century are still scheduled for 10 June and 24 June, respectively. The Commission document states that these initiatives are among its “strategic priorities” – demonstrating once again the new Commission’s commitment to continue in the ambitious tax footsteps of the previous one.

The final revised Work Programme will not become available and public before end-April at least, so there may still be changes in the end.

MEP Questions

Commission hints at reduced kerosene tax rates for islands and peripheral regions

  • Question by MEP Ciarán Cuffe (Greens-EFA/Ireland)
  • Reply by Commissioner Gentiloni

Commission confirms its intention to look at both Passerelle Clause and Article 116

  • Question by MEP Marek Belka (S&D/Poland)
  • Reply by Commissioner Gentiloni

Commission assessing further measures to render EU VAT system more robust

  • Question by MEP Engin Eroglu (RE/Germany)
  • Reply by Commissioner Gentiloni

Commission to improve tax administration for citizens, may consider action to help citizens obtain tax residence certificates

  • Question by MEP Marek Belka (S&D/Poland)
  • Reply by Commissioner Gentiloni

Commission powerless to address exchange of tax data with the US without mandate from the Council

  • Question by MEP François-Xavier Bellamy (EPP/France)
  • Reply by Commissioner Gentiloni


German Council Presidency will keep tax high on the agenda

Germany will take over the 6-month rotating Council Presidency from Croatia in July. In a draft priorities document, Germany indicates that financial transaction tax (FTT) will be one of its priorities in the area of tax. FTT negotiations are currently stalling, but Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz has been pushing hard for agreement.

On top of FTT, the German Presidency will also prioritise improving cooperation between tax administrations, digital taxation and the fight against tax evasion.

The draft German Presidency document, seen by Accountancy Europe, is dated 17 March so it may yet be subject to changes and re-writing due to the evolving corona situation.

OECD publishes report on tax and fiscal policies under corona crisis

The OECD has published a new report on how tax policy can aid governments in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The report finds that governments have taken decisive action to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus and to limit the adverse impacts on citizens and economies.

But the report maintains that further action with broader and stronger measures is needed. “All options” should be explored, including revamping old tools, introducing new ones, and bolstering ongoing efforts to address the international tax challenges posed by the digitalisation of the economy.

The report was requested by the Saudi Presidency of G20. Read more

Coronavirus must not stymie global tax reform: Germany’s Scholz

Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz has insisted that progress on international tax reform should not stall despite the ongoing corona crisis. Scholz underlined that now more than ever governments will need all taxpayers to pay their ‘fair share’ into national budgets.

At the same time, it is uncertain whether the OECD’s planned July conference in Berlin will take place. An agreement on tax reform was supposed to take place then. Moreover, according to a German official it also remains uncertain what a post-corona economy will look like, and this might lead to the tax reform negotiations being on hold. Read moreThis curated content was brought to you by Johan Barros, Accountancy Europe policy manager since 2015. You can send him tips by email, follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.