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State aid and the pandemic: How State aid can back coronavirus economic support measures

08-06-2020

The coronavirus pandemic and its financial and economic consequences have caused a major economic downturn, and the European Union (EU) has moved rapidly to respond with monetary and fiscal policy measures. The fiscal policy instruments deployed include the adaptation of State aid rules to the exceptional circumstances to allow Member States to support their economies by means of direct or indirect intervention. From a competition law point of view, measures that constitute State aid are in principle ...

The coronavirus pandemic and its financial and economic consequences have caused a major economic downturn, and the European Union (EU) has moved rapidly to respond with monetary and fiscal policy measures. The fiscal policy instruments deployed include the adaptation of State aid rules to the exceptional circumstances to allow Member States to support their economies by means of direct or indirect intervention. From a competition law point of view, measures that constitute State aid are in principle illegal, unless issued under an exemption, such as the De minimis Regulation or the General Block Exemption Regulation, subject to notification and European Commission approval. The State aid rules do, however, already allow for aid to compensate for damage caused by natural disasters and exceptional events, such as a pandemic. State aid can also be used to remedy serious disturbances to the economy. The temporary framework adopted by the Commission in March 2020 sets out temporary State aid measures that the Commission will consider compatible with the State aid rules, allowing Member States full flexibility in supporting their coronavirus-stricken economies. The temporary framework is in place to address Member States' various needs more effectively. The framework initially focused on measures to ensure liquidity. Since early April, it has been widened to include measures to support the economy and coronavirus-related medical investment, research and production, as well as measures to ease the social and tax liabilities of companies and the self-employed and measures to subsidise workers' wages. This is an update of a briefing published on 27 April 2020.

Carbon emissions pricing: Some points of reference

30-03-2020

The need to do more to mitigate climate change resulting from emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), in particular in terms of pricing, is widely accepted. Several countries around the globe are either planning to implement or have introduced carbon-emission pricing measures (i.e. taxing or internalising negative externalities), with varying scope (upstream, downstream), coverage (sector exclusions) and boundaries (subnational or national areas). The objective is to reduce emissions in line with medium-term ...

The need to do more to mitigate climate change resulting from emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), in particular in terms of pricing, is widely accepted. Several countries around the globe are either planning to implement or have introduced carbon-emission pricing measures (i.e. taxing or internalising negative externalities), with varying scope (upstream, downstream), coverage (sector exclusions) and boundaries (subnational or national areas). The objective is to reduce emissions in line with medium-term climate change mitigation pathways. There are broadly two approaches: the emissions trading system (cap and trade) and carbon taxing. The existing measures are assessed regularly so as to be made more effective as regards emission reductions. The number of jurisdictions having adopted or intending to adopt carbon pricing has increased but still remains limited, in particular as regards the level of emissions covered. One concern is to address 'carbon leakage', a term that describes shifts in economic activities and/or changes in investment configurations, directly or indirectly causing GHG emissions to be moved away from a jurisdiction with GHG constraints to another jurisdiction with fewer or no GHG constraints. Measures addressing carbon leakage have complementary objectives and outcomes that need to be addressed in their design. They address competitiveness and trade concerns, while their central raison d’être is climate change mitigation. They are now at the top of the EU agenda.

Understanding environmental taxation

16-01-2020

Environmental taxation is one way of encouraging a shift towards more eco-friendly choices; employed in combination with the other instruments available, it can help bring about the adjustments required to tackle the environmental and climate challenges facing us today. The aim of environmental taxation, in principle, is to factor environmental damage, or negative externalities, into prices in order to steer production and consumption choices in a more eco-friendly direction. Environmental taxation ...

Environmental taxation is one way of encouraging a shift towards more eco-friendly choices; employed in combination with the other instruments available, it can help bring about the adjustments required to tackle the environmental and climate challenges facing us today. The aim of environmental taxation, in principle, is to factor environmental damage, or negative externalities, into prices in order to steer production and consumption choices in a more eco-friendly direction. Environmental taxation can potentially address all aspects of environmental protection and conservation. The fight against climate change, pollution – especially air and water pollution – and pressure on the environment, in particular from resource consumption and biodiversity loss, as well as contributory factors, such as gas emissions and the use of potentially harmful substances, can be the subject of tax measures. These are general or sectoral measures which are applied in different ways by individual states and their regional and local authorities. In the European Union, environmental policy and tax policy determine the scope for action of Member States and the Union. Existing environmental taxation measures account for a modest share of national tax revenue. Although the environmental aims are generally acknowledged as valid, when environmental taxation measures are implemented a range of factors must be taken into account, in particular competitiveness and fairness, to ensure that environmental taxation is sufficiently transparent to gain acceptance and so become an effective instrument in the transition that society now so urgently needs.

Tackling VAT fraud related to e-commerce

10-12-2019

Changes to the value added tax (VAT) regulatory framework for e-commerce introduced the destination principle for cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. Identification of the online businesses supplying goods and services to customers in other Member States is going to be key when it comes to ensuring compliance with VAT rules and addressing e-commerce VAT fraud. Parliament is due to vote on two Commission proposals in plenary in December.

Changes to the value added tax (VAT) regulatory framework for e-commerce introduced the destination principle for cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. Identification of the online businesses supplying goods and services to customers in other Member States is going to be key when it comes to ensuring compliance with VAT rules and addressing e-commerce VAT fraud. Parliament is due to vote on two Commission proposals in plenary in December.

Understanding BEPS: From tax avoidance to digital tax challenges

21-10-2019

Action to fight corporate tax avoidance has been deemed necessary in the OECD forum and has received further impetus through the G20/OECD Base erosion and profit shifting action plan (known as BEPS). The 2015 BEPS action plan has 15 actions, covering elements used in corporate tax-avoidance practices and aggressive tax-planning schemes. The implementation of the BEPS action plan was designed to be flexible, as a consequence of its adoption by consensus. Recommendations made in BEPS reports range ...

Action to fight corporate tax avoidance has been deemed necessary in the OECD forum and has received further impetus through the G20/OECD Base erosion and profit shifting action plan (known as BEPS). The 2015 BEPS action plan has 15 actions, covering elements used in corporate tax-avoidance practices and aggressive tax-planning schemes. The implementation of the BEPS action plan was designed to be flexible, as a consequence of its adoption by consensus. Recommendations made in BEPS reports range from minimum standards to guidelines, as well as putting in place an instrument to modify the provisions of tax treaties related to BEPS practices. In addition, putting BEPS actions into practice has involved a growing number of countries, so as to provide a more inclusive framework able to involve more countries beyond the OECD and G20 members, and build on cooperation between international organisations. The application of BEPS actions and their follow-up involves issues that remain to be implemented or addressed. Here come in particular issues beyond the avoidance techniques that were addressed in the BEPS action plan, starting with addressing tax challenges of the digital economy, building on the BEPS action1 report that defined a calendar for providing an adaptation of international tax rules to the impact of digitalisation. Based on several intermediary reports, the OECD/G20 inclusive framework on BEPS issued a work programme to develop a consensus solution to the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy. Endorsed in June 2019 by the G20, this programme outlines the steps for modernising international tax rules. An annex to this document outlines the different international fora and instruments relevant to BEPS actions and the countries or organisations that participate in them or apply them. This briefing updates an earlier edition (PE 607.288), of June 2017.

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.

Detailed technical measures for the definitive VAT system for cross-border goods trade

20-06-2019

The common European value added tax (VAT) system was set up in 1967, and reformed in 1993, to adapt it to the entry into force of the European Union (EU) internal market. The existing rules governing intra Community trade were therefore intended to be transitory. While VAT has become an important source of revenue for both national governments and the EU budget, the current system is ill-adapted to the challenges of a modern economy. A substantial review was initiated as from 2016, to update the ...

The common European value added tax (VAT) system was set up in 1967, and reformed in 1993, to adapt it to the entry into force of the European Union (EU) internal market. The existing rules governing intra Community trade were therefore intended to be transitory. While VAT has become an important source of revenue for both national governments and the EU budget, the current system is ill-adapted to the challenges of a modern economy. A substantial review was initiated as from 2016, to update the EU VAT system and make it less vulnerable to fraud, as described in the April 2016 VAT action plan. The proposal, adopted on 25 May 2018, would amend the VAT Directive (Directive 2006/112/EC), to introduce detailed technical measures for the definitive VAT system for intra-EU business to business (B2B) trade in goods. The present proposal follows and complements the adoption of Council Directive (EU) 2018/1910 on 4 December 2018. The Parliament adopted its position on the proposal on 12 February 2019; the Council has yet to finalise its position. Third edition of a briefing originally drafted by Ana Claudia Alfieri, and subsequently updated by Laura Puccio. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

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.

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