Manual Tax Planning: Business 2012-13

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Calls on the Commission to identify areas where EU regulations, and the administrative cooperation between Member States, could be improved in order to reduce tax fraud, including through the appropriate use of the Fiscalis and Customs programmes;. Welcomes the adoption by the Council of the new framework for administrative cooperation, and calls on the Member States to implement this framework promptly;. Encourages the Member States to continue and upgrade, under the new Fiscalis programme, the simultaneous controls to find and fight cross-border tax fraud, and to facilitate the presence of foreign officials in the offices of tax administrations and during administrative enquiries; highlights the importance of stronger cooperation between tax authorities and other law enforcement bodies, especially with the view of sharing information acquired in relation to investigations linked to money laundering and related tax crimes;.

Recalls that the elimination of the informal economy cannot be realised without offering appropriate incentives; suggests, moreover, that the Member States must report, via a scoreboard, the extent to which they have succeeded in reducing their informal economies;. Supports the efforts of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions IOSCO to introduce Legal Entity Identifiers as a step towards ensuring the traceability and transparency of financial transaction, which is key to facilitating the fight against tax fraud;.

Notes that the dismantling of tax privileges creates scope for comprehensive reforms leading to an uncomplicated, understandable and fair taxation system;. Points out that legal proceedings against tax fraud are cumbersome and lengthy, and that those found guilty receive, in the end, relatively mild sentences, making tax fraud something of a risk-free crime;. Emphasises the potential of e-government in terms of increasing transparency and combating fraud and corruption, thereby helping to protect public funds; stresses the need for legislation that enables continuous innovation;.

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Calls on the Commission to address specifically the problem of hybrid mismatches between the different tax systems used in the Member States;. Points out that ever since VAT was introduced, the model for collecting it has remained unchanged; stresses that as this model is outdated, given the many changes that have taken place in the technological and economic environment, its continued use leads to substantial losses;. Stresses that the correct operation of the customs system has direct consequences in terms of the calculation of VAT; is deeply worried that customs checks in the EU are not functioning properly, resulting in significant VAT losses 9 ; finds it unacceptable that, in most Member States, the tax authorities have no direct access to customs data, and that automated cross-checking with tax data is therefore not possible; points out that organised crime is well aware of the weaknesses of the actual system;.

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider setting up measures to enable the social reuse of funds confiscated through criminal proceedings in cases of tax fraud and tax avoidance; calls, therefore, for a substantial part of the funds confiscated to be reused for social purposes and reinjected into local and regional economies directly or indirectly affected by tax crimes;. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to foster an environment where the role of the civil society in exposing cases of tax fraud and tax havens will be fully protected, inter alia by setting up effective systems for protecting whistleblowers and journalistic sources;.

On tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning. Calls on the Member States, as a matter of priority, to adopt and implement the amended Savings Tax Directive in order to close the loopholes of the existing Directive and prevent tax evasion in a better way;. Welcomes the international discussions on the updating of the OECD guidelines on transfer pricing, i. Calls on the proposal for a revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive to be complemented by introducing the obligation to create publically available government registers of the beneficial ownership of companies, trusts, foundations and other similar legal structures;.

Calls on the Member States to improve the effectiveness of the Code of Conduct for business taxation by raising issues at Council level where political decisions are urgently needed; urges the Commission to intervene actively in cases where the Code of Conduct Group cannot agree on procedures to remove mismatches in national tax systems;. Calls on the Commission to prepare and promote a Code of Conduct for auditors and advisers; calls on auditing firms to alert national tax authorities to any signs of aggressive tax planning of the audited company;.

Takes the view that auditors should not be allowed to provide prohibited, non-audit services, and that tax advisory services relating to structuring transactions and tax consulting must be regarded as such;. Notes that proper identification of taxpayers is key to the successful exchange of information between national tax administrations; calls on the Commission to speed up the creation of an EU tax identification number TIN , applicable to all legal and natural persons engaged in cross-border transactions; is of the opinion that the TIN should be connected to an international and open VAT Information Exchange System VIES database, assisting in identifying the unpaid taxes and other avoided liabilities;.

Encourages the Commission and the Member States to establish efficient revenue-collecting mechanisms that minimise the distance between taxpayers and tax authorities and maximise the use of modern technology; calls on the Commission to tackle complexities of taxing electronic commerce by developing appropriate EU standards;. Calls on the Member States to ensure that financial sector lobbying, which often results in legal tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning regimes, be made as transparent as possible;.

Encourages the Commission to regulate financial flows from Member States to third countries arranged for the purposes of tax avoidance and to create a balanced and competitive tax framework;. Calls on the Commission to carry out an in-depth study into the difference, in the Member States, between legal and actual corporation tax rates in order to ensure that the debate on fiscal harmonisation is based on objective data;. Calls on the Member States to notify and make public individual tax rulings by national authorities for cross-border companies; insists that Member States apply strict substance requirements for cross-border companies to obtain tax rulings;.

Observes that while trusts are often used as conduits for tax evasion, notes with concern that the majority of countries do not require registration of legal arrangements; calls on the EU to introduce a European register for trusts and other secrecy entities as a prerequisite for dealing with tax avoidance;. On tax havens. Calls for a common EU approach towards tax havens;. Calls on the Commission to adopt a clear definition and a common set of criteria to identify tax havens, as well as appropriate measures applying to identified jurisdictions, for implementation by 31 December , and to ensure that it is applied consistently throughout all EU legislation; suggests that the definition be based on the OECD standards of transparency and exchange of information as well as on the Code of Conduct principles and criteria; believes, in this regard, that a jurisdiction is to be considered a tax haven if several of the following indicators are fulfilled:.

Urges the Commission to compile and create a public European blacklist of tax havens by 31 December ; calls, in this context, on the relevant authorities:.

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International dimension. Is of the opinion that the minimum standards in the Commission Recommendation regarding measures intended to encourage third countries to apply minimum standards of good governance should explicitly apply to the Member States as well;. Calls on the Commission to fully contribute to the further development of the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting BEPS project by sharing analysis on the problematic tax regimes in and between Member States, and on what changes are needed at Member State and EU level to avoid tax fraud and evasion as well as any form of aggressive tax planning; calls on the Commission to report regularly on this process to the Council and Parliament;.

Points out that illicit outflows are a major explanation for developing country debt, while aggressive tax planning is contrary to the principles of corporate social responsibility;.

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Notes that tax systems in many developing countries are not in line with international standards instead exhibiting weak fiscal jurisdiction and inefficiencies in tax administration, high levels of corruption, insufficient capacity to introduce and sustain well-functioning tax registers, etc. Points out that, by reinforcing a bilateral rather than a multilateral approach to transnational tax issues, double taxation agreements DTA risk encouraging transfer pricing and regulatory arbitrage; calls on the Commission, therefore, to refrain from promoting such agreements, instead of tax information exchange agreements TIEAs , since the former usually result in a fiscal loss for developing countries through lower withholding tax rates on dividend, interest and royalty payments;.

Regulation EU No A scandalous European tax gap. The average of the tax lost in Europe today exceeds the total amount that Member States spend on healthcare, and it amounts to more than four times the amount spent on education in the EU. The current tax gap in Europe represents not only an alarming loss of public revenue but also a danger for the safeguarding of the EU social model based on quality public services available to all. It is a threat to the proper functioning of the Single Market and a dent to the efficiency and fairness of tax systems within the EU.

The loss of revenues continues to increase the deficit and debt levels in the Member States right at the most crucial time of fighting the crisis. Due to tax fraud and tax avoidance, funds available to foster public investment, growth and employment are waning. All of this in times of the biggest economic, financial and social crisis since decades, when the automatic stabilisers of the welfare state remain more relevant than ever to ensure growth and social cohesion.

A large part of the non-taxed liquidity is feeding into financial trading activities rather than public consumption and investment. Moreover, the lack of coordination of tax policies in the EU leads to significant costs and administrative burdens for citizens and businesses operating cross-border within the EU, and may cause non-taxation or lead to tax fraud and tax avoidance. Today an increasing number of European businesses and individuals find themselves in a competitive disadvantage compared to those that find ways to avoid paying their fair share.


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Additionally, countries under assistance programmes have in the last years, after stepping up tax collection and eliminating privileges in line with Troika proposals, seen many of their larger companies leave in order to benefit from tax privileges offered by other countries. Tax fraud and tax avoidance, therefore, represent a serious, multi-facetted problem, requiring a coordinated approached, at national, EU and international level.

With Member States holding competency over their fiscal systems, action on national level is important. Therefore, all focus should be put towards establishing a cohesive, concrete and common European tax strategy, embraced and implemented by all Member States. Headline target: Halving of tax gap by In order to get Member States to commit to an ambitious and realistic target of halving the tax gap by , which would allow them to gradually generate new tax revenue without raising tax rates, at the level of several hundred billion Euros a year, the Commission however needs to take further steps and develop a comprehensive strategy to close the EU tax gap, based on concrete legislative actions.

Namely, a strong commitment to reduce the tax gap would contribute to the necessary stabilisation of financial markets by significantly reducing the liquidity available for financial trading that is unrelated to real economic activity. It would also increase available public revenue for fiscal consolidation measures while easing the austerity effects. Furthermore, efficiency and fairness of national tax systems in the EU would be improved together with enhanced general tax compliance.

A first step should be to engage in serious negotiations and bring to a closure all open legislative proposals regarding issues of tax fraud, tax avoidance and tax havens. Proposals to achieve the headline target. An important way forward is to enhance the use of the European semester by integrating the EU tax gap strategy into the annual national stability and growth programmes and the national reform programmes. When it comes to measures tackling tax fraud or tax evasion an illegal activity where tax liabilities are evaded Member States should allocate adequate resources to their national tax administrations and tax audit staff.

Furthermore, your Rapporteur advocates for a compulsory CCCTB as well as development of new strategies for combating VAT fraud and stricter tackling of tax fraud by means of prosecution under criminal law, where the Commission should enhance its cooperation with other EU law enforcement bodies, in particular with authorities responsible for anti-money laundering, justice and social security. An explicit mention of tax crimes as predicate offences to money laundering should be included in the upcoming review of the Third Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

It is closely linked with the concept of aggressive tax planning, where large corporations undertake extensive tax planning, artificially shifting profits to minimise their effective tax rate and reduce their tax liabilities.

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Your Rapporteur would like to see the scope of the Savings Taxation Directive upgraded in order to effectively end banking secrecy and considers it high time that Luxembourg and Austria abandon their opposition to an effective agreement with Switzerland. Additionally, country-by-country reporting requirements for cross-border companies are essential for detecting corporate tax avoidance and your Rapporteur believes that the Commission should introduce country-by-country reporting for cross-border companies in all sectors, requiring disclosure of information on the trading of a group as a whole in order to monitor if proper transfer pricing rules are respected.

Further action is also needed to improve identification of taxpayers, taxing of electronic commerce, efficiency of tax revenue-collecting mechanisms, increased transparency of company registries and registers of trust as well as improvements in the effectiveness of the Code of Conduct for business taxation and a new Code of conduct for auditors and advisers.

On the issue of tax havens , your Rapporteur calls for a common European approach, by all Member States, towards tax havens.


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Member States whose tax base has been negatively affected because of non-transparent or harmful tax measures of tax havens usually consider a variety of steps intended to prevent such negative incidences. A response from taxpayers in such cases then often includes routing of businesses or transactions through another State with a lower level of protection. A way forward would therefore be in a common European approach.

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To ensure an efficiency of such approach, your Rapporteur calls on the Commission to include in its EU tax gap strategy a clear definition of tax havens, a common set of criteria to identify tax havens, as well as appropriate measures that should apply to identified jurisdictions.

Going a step further, your Rapporteur proposes that a definition of tax havens be based on criteria of Global Forum and the Code of Conduct Group. Finally, your Rapporteur would also like to see the Commission developing a system of incentives for jurisdictions, which initiate bilateral negotiations with the EU after being blacklisted and would ask Member States to remove third countries from a European blacklist if they cease being tax havens.


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It is important that effort is put towards preventive actions as well, where closer cooperation and assistance to developing third countries, which are not tax havens, would help them to effectively fight against tax fraud, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning. The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:.

TAX PLANNING FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

Points out that illicit outflows are a major explanation for developing country debt, while aggressive tax planning is contrary to the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility;. Notes that tax systems in many developing countries are not in line with international standards weak fiscal jurisdiction and inefficiencies in tax administration, high level of corruption, insufficient capacity to introduce and sustain well-functioning tax registers, etc.

Recalls that reinforcing transparency in tax matters includes the identification of owners and beneficiaries of companies, trust funds and foundations;. Notes that tax evasion and money laundering are facilitated by Trust and Company Service Providers TCSP , as they enable the establishment of structures that render the beneficial owners unaccountable for their actions and obligations, including to tax authorities, to creditors and to the victims of human rights violations; takes the view that TCSPs should be required to carry out due diligence in accurately establishing beneficial ownership information under anti-money laundering rules; considers also that companies should only be allowed to incorporate in a jurisdiction if they have meaningful economic substance within that jurisdiction for example, staff and sales ;.

Observes that trusts are often used as conduits for tax evasion; notes with concern, however, that the majority of countries do not require registration of legal arrangements; calls on the EU to introduce a European register for trusts and other secrecy entities, as a prerequisite for dealing with tax avoidance;. Stresses that the fight against corruption is an integral part of capacity-building for tax administrations; calls for the full implementation of the Merida Convention against Corruption ;. Points out that by reinforcing a bilateral rather than a multilateral approach to transnational tax issues, double taxation agreements DTA risk encouraging transfer pricing and regulatory arbitrage; calls on the Commission, therefore, to refrain from promoting such agreements, instead of tax information exchange agreements TIEAs , since the former usually result in a fiscal loss for developing countries through lower withholding tax rates on dividend, interest and royalty payments;.

Stresses that insufficient transparency in financial reporting of multinational enterprises MNEs is a key factor which facilitates international tax evasion and avoidance; insists that the EU strives towards the revision of the current accounting standards at the International Accounting Standards Board IASB and the introduction of regular country-by-country reporting as an international financial reporting standard for MNEs;.

Calls on the EU to upgrade technical assistance in developing countries so as to address transfer pricing manipulation, and to scale up its cooperation on tax matters by encouraging the African Tax Administration Forum ATAF to enhance tax mobilisation and democratic governance in Africa;. Emphasises that, in a context where export revenues vary according to raw material price fluctuations, it is important to give developing countries policy space to increase their capacity to resist external shocks and to implement countercyclical action plans to boost the economy, by allowing them to use tools such as export taxation.

Date adopted. Substitute s under Rule 2 present for the final vote. Rapporteur: Bart Staes. The Committee on Budgetary Control calls on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:. Tax Innovations has a large client base of personal tax return customers and can assist with your personal tax affairs if these are complex. If you would like any advice regarding the above article or would simply like to discuss other ways in which we could help you or your business, please contact us on or customerservice taxinnovations.

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