Tackling tax fraud and evasion: Commission sets out concrete measures
Minimum sanctions for tax crimes, a cross-border tax identification number,
an EU tax-payer's charter and stronger common measures against tax havens.
These are just some of the concrete ideas that the Commission has put forward
today to improve the fight against tax fraud and evasion in the EU.
Taking a holistic approach, today's Communication looks at ways to strengthen
current measures and sets out possible new initiatives for eliminating fraud and
evasion in Europe.
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for taxation, customs, anti-fraud and audit,
"Let there be no illusion:
tax evaders steal from the pockets of ordinary citizens and deprive Member
States of much-needed revenue.
If we want fair and efficient tax systems, we must stamp out this activity.
The political will to intensify the battle is there. Now it is time to
translate that into action.
As a Union of 27, we have a powerful advantage - strength in numbers.
If we play as a team, with a common strategy, we can defeat the fraudsters
and evaders, and reclaim vast sums of money that are legitimately due."
The size of the shadow economy is estimated to be nearly one fifth of GDP on
average across Member States, representing nearly €2 trillion in total..
Given the globalisation of the economy and technological advances, it is
clear that isolated national efforts to overcome this problem will not work.
Therefore, the Communication sets out a 3 tier approach aimed at attacking
evasion and fraud from every possible angle.
Member States should focus on improving their administrative capacity to
collect taxes, as was clearly set out in the Country Specific Recommendations
The Commission will monitor closely their progress in this field, while also
providing technical assistance where needed.
National authorities should also make it easier for the willing to comply,
for example, through voluntary disclosure programmes.
EU instruments such as the one-stop-shop (see IP/12/17) and a possible Tax
Web-Portal should also assist better compliance.
Action to tackle tax evasion at European level has proven to be effective.
Thanks to the EU Savings Directive, for example, Member States exchange
information on non-resident tax-payers to the value of €20 billion.
The challenge now is to deepen such cooperation and strengthen common tools.
In this respect, agreement by Member States on the revised Savings Directive
In addition, a number of new ideas are presented. These include a possible
European cross border tax identification number, a quick reaction mechanism for
VAT fraud and minimum EU rules and sanctions for fraud and evasion.
For the fight against tax evasion to be truly effective, international
partners must apply good governance standards that are equivalent to the EU's.
The mandates that the Commission has requested to negotiate stronger savings
agreements with key neighbouring countries are crucial in that respect.
Before the end of 2012, the Commission will also set out a "stick and
carrots" approach to dealing with tax havens, and measures to deal with
aggressive tax planners.
At the March 2012 European Council, Member States asked the Commission "to
rapidly develop concrete ways to improve the fight against tax fraud and tax
evasion, including in relation to third countries and to report by June 2012".
Today's Communication will be submitted to the EU Summit at the end of June.
The Commission will start work on developing the ideas set out in today's
Before the end of the year, it will present an Action Plan on fighting fraud
and evasion, with specific measures that could be rapidly developed.
In tandem, the Commission will also come forward with its initiative on tax
havens and aggressive tax planning.