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EU listing of tax havens

21-10-2019

Broadly speaking, 'tax havens' provide taxpayers, both legal and natural persons, with opportunities for tax evasion or avoidance, while their secrecy and opacity also serves to disguise the origins of the proceeds of illegal and criminal activities. One might ask why establishing a list of tax havens or high-risk countries is useful. Drawing up such lists began with action to end harmful tax practices arising from the discrepancy between the global reach of financial flows and the geographically ...

Broadly speaking, 'tax havens' provide taxpayers, both legal and natural persons, with opportunities for tax evasion or avoidance, while their secrecy and opacity also serves to disguise the origins of the proceeds of illegal and criminal activities. One might ask why establishing a list of tax havens or high-risk countries is useful. Drawing up such lists began with action to end harmful tax practices arising from the discrepancy between the global reach of financial flows and the geographically limited scope of jurisdictions that match or exist inside national borders. However we refer to tax havens, they all have one thing in common: they allow individuals or organisations to escape from taxation. Distinctive characteristics of tax havens include low or zero taxation, fictitious residences (with no bearing on reality) and tax secrecy. The latter two are key methods for hiding ultimate beneficial owners. In the EU, the process of adopting a common list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions was initiated as part of efforts to further good tax governance, and its external dimension. On 5 December 2017, the Council adopted a first common list resulting from the assessment of third countries against distinctive criteria. Pursuing the assessment process, the Council has updated the list on the basis of commitments received, while also reviewing countries that had not yet been assessed. This briefing updates an earlier one, from May 2018 – itself an updated and extended version of a briefing from December 2017: ‘Understanding the rationale for compiling “tax haven” lists', PE 614.633 – to take account of the changes in the lists since that date.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against tax fraud

28-06-2019

Tax policy, and the fight against tax fraud, have gained particular exposure over the past five years as a result of the light shed by repeated tax leaks and the related journalistic investigations. This has added to the increasing lack of acceptance of damaging tax practices, especially since the recession and the resulting budget constraints. The fight against tax fraud aims at recovering revenue not paid to the public authorities. It also aims at ensuring that fraudsters do not have an advantage ...

Tax policy, and the fight against tax fraud, have gained particular exposure over the past five years as a result of the light shed by repeated tax leaks and the related journalistic investigations. This has added to the increasing lack of acceptance of damaging tax practices, especially since the recession and the resulting budget constraints. The fight against tax fraud aims at recovering revenue not paid to the public authorities. It also aims at ensuring that fraudsters do not have an advantage over compliant taxpayers, thus ensuring tax fairness between taxpayers. Unpaid taxes result in reduced resources for national and European Union (EU) budgets. Though the scale of unpaid taxes is by nature difficult to estimate, available assessments hint at large amounts of resources lost to public finances. Citizens' evaluation of the EU's current involvement in the fight against tax fraud has improved, but the majority of citizens in each Member State still share expectations for even more intensive involvement. Despite this, there is still a considerable gap between citizens' evaluations and expectations of EU involvement. There is still room for improvement in addressing the preferences and expectations of EU citizens. The fight against tax fraud is shared between Member States and the EU. Coming under tax policy, it has remained closely linked to Member State sovereignty, protected by the requirement for unanimity and a special legislative procedure which keeps tax matters firmly under the Council's control. This has been the case since the Union's beginnings, in spite of the proposed limited changes to the tax framework. As shortcomings have been more clearly identified, the discussion has been opened anew in speeches on the State of the Union delivered by the President of the European Commission before the European Parliament. Fighting tax fraud covers not only actions against illegal behaviour, but also the deterrence of fraud and measures to foster compliance. As a result it involves a large reboot of tax provisions, to upgrade them for the scale and features of tax fraud as it is and as it evolves. In spite of the notable deliveries during the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, there remains work ahead, namely because all provisions need to be implemented, enforced, monitored and, if need be, updated, to keep up with the versatility of tax fraud and the pace of digital evolution globally. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Public country-by-country reporting by multinational enterprises

26-04-2019

Tax transparency has gained particular importance as a tool in the fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion, particularly in the field of corporate income tax and aggressive tax planning. Cooperation between tax authorities aims at allowing them to obtain information covering the global business of multinational enterprises (MNEs), and progress has already been made in this area. A further step in tax transparency would be to broaden it by providing publicly available information relating to tax ...

Tax transparency has gained particular importance as a tool in the fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion, particularly in the field of corporate income tax and aggressive tax planning. Cooperation between tax authorities aims at allowing them to obtain information covering the global business of multinational enterprises (MNEs), and progress has already been made in this area. A further step in tax transparency would be to broaden it by providing publicly available information relating to tax paid at the place where profits are actually made. Public country-by-country reporting (CBCR) is the publication of a defined set of facts and figures by large MNEs, thereby providing the public with a global picture of the taxes MNEs pay on their corporate income. The proposal is being considered by the European Parliament (EP) and the Council. In the EP, the amendments put forward by the ECON and JURI committees were voted on 4 July 2017. In the absence of a Council position enabling negotiations on the proposal, the Parliament adopted its position at first reading in plenary on 27 March 2019. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

TAX3 Special Committee report

20-03-2019

The European Parliament's Special Committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (TAX3) was set up in March 2018 to build on and complement the work carried out in the EP since 2014. Its report, submitted for debate during the European Parliament's March II plenary session, takes stock of the continued topicality of these issues and of the progress made, as well as the remaining work ahead to fight financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance. It also paves the way for further monitoring ...

The European Parliament's Special Committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (TAX3) was set up in March 2018 to build on and complement the work carried out in the EP since 2014. Its report, submitted for debate during the European Parliament's March II plenary session, takes stock of the continued topicality of these issues and of the progress made, as well as the remaining work ahead to fight financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance. It also paves the way for further monitoring and follow-up actions.

An overview of shell companies in the European Union

17-10-2018

In April 2018, the European Parliament's Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3) requested a study on shell companies in the EU. In response to this request, the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit (EVAL) and the European Added Value Unit (EAVA) of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) prepared this study. The study aims to contribute to a better understanding of the phenomenon of shell companies in the European Union. In particular, it approaches the issue through ...

In April 2018, the European Parliament's Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3) requested a study on shell companies in the EU. In response to this request, the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit (EVAL) and the European Added Value Unit (EAVA) of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) prepared this study. The study aims to contribute to a better understanding of the phenomenon of shell companies in the European Union. In particular, it approaches the issue through a set of ‘proxy’ indicators at a member state level. It proceeds by presenting main risks associated with the shell companies. Finally, if presents policies aiming at mitigating these identified risks.

Tax transparency for intermediaries

03-07-2018

The situations highlighted by the ‘Panama papers’ and ‘Paradise papers’, among others leaks show how certain intermediaries and other providers of tax advice appear to have facilitated companies and individuals in avoiding taxation, often through complex cross-border schemes involving routing assets to, or through, offshore entities. Among the tools to fight tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning are established mechanisms for disclosure of tax information and publication of tax-relevant information ...

The situations highlighted by the ‘Panama papers’ and ‘Paradise papers’, among others leaks show how certain intermediaries and other providers of tax advice appear to have facilitated companies and individuals in avoiding taxation, often through complex cross-border schemes involving routing assets to, or through, offshore entities. Among the tools to fight tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning are established mechanisms for disclosure of tax information and publication of tax-relevant information by companies. In June 2017, the Commission adopted a proposal aimed at ensuring early information on such situations, by setting an obligation to report cross-border arrangements designed by tax intermediaries or taxpayers and by including the information collected in the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities within the European Union. The directive was adopted on 25 May 2018, and it is to be applied from 1 July 2020. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB)

15-06-2018

The European Commission has decided to re-launch the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) project in a two-step approach, with the publication on 25 October 2016 of two new interconnected proposals: on a common corporate tax base (CCTB), and on a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB). Building on the 2016 CCTB proposal, the 2016 CCCTB proposal introduces the consolidation aspect of this double initiative. Companies operating across borders in the EU would no longer have to deal ...

The European Commission has decided to re-launch the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) project in a two-step approach, with the publication on 25 October 2016 of two new interconnected proposals: on a common corporate tax base (CCTB), and on a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB). Building on the 2016 CCTB proposal, the 2016 CCCTB proposal introduces the consolidation aspect of this double initiative. Companies operating across borders in the EU would no longer have to deal with 28 different sets of national rules when calculating their taxable profits. Consolidation means that there would be a ‘one-stop-shop’ – the principal tax authority – where one of the companies of a group, that is, the principal taxpayer, would file a tax return. To distribute the tax base among Member States concerned, a formulary apportionment system is introduced. The legislative proposal falls under the consultation procedure. The report was adopted in the ECON committee on 21 February and Parliament’s opinion in plenary on 15 March 2018. the proposal is thus now in the hands of the Council. Third edition, based on an original briefing by Gustaf Gimdal. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

FATCA Legislation and its Application at International and EU Level

14-05-2018

This study commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the PETI Committee, analyzes FATCA legislation and its application at international and EU level: it first provides a global overview on exchange of tax information and of the FATCA mechanisms applied through intergovernmental agreements. The study then describes the extraterritorial nature and negative externalities of FATCA, in particular its impact on U.S. citizens ...

This study commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the PETI Committee, analyzes FATCA legislation and its application at international and EU level: it first provides a global overview on exchange of tax information and of the FATCA mechanisms applied through intergovernmental agreements. The study then describes the extraterritorial nature and negative externalities of FATCA, in particular its impact on U.S. citizens abroad and the potential conflicts with EU law, with specific attention to the right of FATCA data protection under the GDPR. It concludes with suggestions for bilateral and unilateral EU-U.S. policies, with final remarks on a multilateral approach.

Revision of the Fourth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive

12-04-2018

Directive (EU) 2015/849, which forms part of the EU regulatory framework to combat financial crime, has shown gaps in the light of terrorist attacks and various tax leaks. In this context, the European Commission proposed to amend the directive, along with Directive 2009/101/EC, to broaden their scope, lower thresholds benefiting from exemptions and provide for the creation of automated centralised mechanisms (e.g. central electronic data retrieval systems). The European Parliament and Council each ...

Directive (EU) 2015/849, which forms part of the EU regulatory framework to combat financial crime, has shown gaps in the light of terrorist attacks and various tax leaks. In this context, the European Commission proposed to amend the directive, along with Directive 2009/101/EC, to broaden their scope, lower thresholds benefiting from exemptions and provide for the creation of automated centralised mechanisms (e.g. central electronic data retrieval systems). The European Parliament and Council each put forward substantial modifications to the Commission proposal, including not amending the aforementioned Directive 2009/101/EC. These include: the obligation for Member States to provide data to the Commission on trusts and legal arrangements; specific professional secrecy obligations for staff working, or having worked for, competent authorities supervising credit and financial institutions; cooperation between competent authorities; or the obligation for Member States to provide Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) with access to information – including through registries or central electronic data retrieval systems – which allows the identification of any natural or legal person owning real estate. The agreement reached in trilogue negotiations now needs to be approved by the Parliament in plenary, and thereafter by the Council. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Revision of the Anti-money-laundering Directive

11-04-2018

The current EU regulatory framework for financial crime –composed of Directive (EU) 2015/849, and Regulation (EU) 2015/847– faces the challenge of keeping pace with technological innovation in financial services, which can create new opportunities to conceal financing, as well as the potential exploitation by criminals of loopholes in the system. Following approval in committee in January, the report is due to be voted in plenary in April.

The current EU regulatory framework for financial crime –composed of Directive (EU) 2015/849, and Regulation (EU) 2015/847– faces the challenge of keeping pace with technological innovation in financial services, which can create new opportunities to conceal financing, as well as the potential exploitation by criminals of loopholes in the system. Following approval in committee in January, the report is due to be voted in plenary in April.

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