Taxation and customs union

Inheritance Tax Conference, 12 November 2012

The European Commission, together with the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), organised a Conference on "Tackling EU cross-border Inheritance Tax issues" on 12 November 2012.

The event took place in Centre Borschette, Brussels, Belgium. The agenda is to be found here. The presentations delivered are also available.

This event is a follow-up to the Commission's Recommendation of December 2011 on how EU countries could make their national systems of tax relief for double inheritance taxation more effective and comprehensive and to the set of principles for the design of non-discriminatory inheritance and gift tax systems that the Commission published on the same date. See our Inheritance tax page.

EU citizens who inherit or receive a gift of property or other assets located in another EU country or from a person who lives or lived in another EU country may be subject to inheritance or gift taxes in two or more EU countries.  At present there are no comprehensive measures in place to relieve such double or multiple taxation at any level (national, bilateral or EU). EU citizens inheriting cross-border may also be exposed to tax discrimination if countries subject cross-border inheritances or gifts to harsher tax rules than those applied to local inheritances and gifts.  

Conservative estimates show that in Europe there are around 350,000 – 400,000 cases of inheritance taxation with a cross border element annually (see the Copenhagen Economics Study ). Inheritance and gift taxes are a relatively small (estimated at 0.5%) source of budget revenues; however for the individuals concerned the impact of double taxation or discriminatory tax treatment can be enormous.