Most tax claims (or debts) due to national treasuries are collected promptly through spontaneous payment by the debtor. When the claims are not settled promptly, national tax administrations can resort to a range of powers to recover the claim. At the limit, the claim can be recovered through the seizure and sale of the debtor's property by the tax administration ("enforcement").
Given the free movement of persons, goods and capital within the EU, debtors (or recoverable assets belonging to the debtors) may be within the jurisdiction of another Member State. Therefore, recovery assistance between tax authorities of different States is an essential tool to help protect the financial interests of the Member States and to ensure that taxpayers do not successfully evade their tax payment obligations.
Since 1 January 2012, mutual recovery assistance has been governed by Council Directive 2010/24/EU. This new directive extends the scope of the recovery assistance to all taxes and duties levied by Member States and by their territorial or administrative subdivisions. It also introduces the European instrument permitting enforcement in another Member State as the sole basis for recovery measures taken in the requested Member State.
Implementing EU provisions, dealing with the communication of requests and replies between the competent tax offices, are laid down in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 1189/2011.