Tackling tax evasion: Commission drives point home
By Tanguy Verhoosel | Monday 17 September 2012
Tackling tax fraud and harmful competition is increasingly important to help resolve the economic crisis that continues to plague the Union, according to Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta. He reiterated, on 17 September, that the Commission would strive to “ensure progress” on the issue of savings taxation. By year’s end it will present proposals “for concrete actions” to bring tax havens into line.
Semeta welcomed the comments made by Commission President José Manuel Barroso in his ‘State of the Union’ address to the European Parliament, on 12 September (see
“Stopping tax fraud and tax evasion could put extra billions into the public purse across Europe,” said Barroso. “This is why the Commission will fight for an agreement on the revised Savings Tax Directive, and on mandates to negotiate stronger savings tax agreements with third countries,” namely Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino and Monaco.
“If we succeeded in working out a good agreement with the Swiss, member states could collect taxes much more effectively and solve certain budget consolidation problems,” observed Semeta.
The savings taxation issue is still being held up by Luxembourg and Austria, which refuse to abolish their banking secrecy if Switzerland is not obliged to do the same – an option Berne rejects.
The commissioner urged the European Parliament to up the pressure on Luxembourg and Vienna: “Parliament supports the proposals we have made. It can also make the effort needed to convince the two countries” to make concessions.
Semeta also commented on unfair tax competition between EU member states or imposed on the Union by tax havens, especially in the area of business taxation.
The Commission has not received any complaints over the move by Bernard Arnault, head of the French luxury group LVMH, to apply for Belgian citizenship, said Semeta. Its services have reviewed Belgian legislation, which sets low – or in some cases zero – tax rates on income from capital. They concluded that it establishes no “discrimination” against nationals from other EU states.
The commissioner is nevertheless resolved to “fight harmful tax competition”.
He added that the Commission would be tabling by the end of the year – in principle on 19 December – proposals for “concrete action” to improve “good governance related to tax havens and aggressive tax planning”.
By year’s end the executive will present proposals “for concrete actions” to bring tax havens into line