Both collecting taxes and combating tax fraud and evasion are competences of EU Member States. However, in an increasingly globalised world, the EU provides a framework and offers instruments to effectively handle cross-border tax issues.
An Action Plan
EU competences today
Through IT and other means, the EU allows for co-operation and exchange of information among its Member States on all sorts of taxes, particularly savings taxation and VAT. EU legislation enables collaboration between national tax authorities in various ways.
In addition, a number of expert groups have been established including:
- At Council of Ministers level, the Code of Conduct on Business Taxation group in which EU countries assess each other's tax regimes to identify harmful tax measures. This groups enforces the commitment of Member States to abolish existing harmful measures and refrain from introducing new ones.
- The Tax Policy Group where personal representatives of EU finance ministers discuss issues such as double taxation and tax avoidance.
- Several groups bring the EU, Member States and/or representatives of business together to discuss how to improve the operation of tax systems in practice.
Lastly, the Fiscalis Programme facilitates working visits by tax officials to other Member States as well as joint actions.
EU competences tomorrow
The current legal and technical set-up needs to be reinforced. The EU continues to monitor and improve its work to combat tax fraud and evasion. As such, the Commission adopted an Action Plan in 2012 setting out over 30 measures to combat tax fraud and tax evasion now and in the future. It includes concrete steps to help protect Member States' tax revenues against aggressive tax planning as well as tax havens and unfair competition.
The priorities now are for Member States to make the necessary improvements to their national tax administrations and systems, to make full use of the existing European toolbox and to agree on new rules and instruments where relevant. A presentation shows the state of play after a year.