Europe Academy President Emilio Fatovic opened the seminar by outlining tax reforms currently underway in Europe, underlining the importance of considering the impact on staff in tax administrations. These are the same people who are victims of the crisis and budgetary constraints imposed by governments.
While tax administrations are under more and more pressure, the EU is seeing huge losses in revenue through tax fraud and tax evasion. Mr Fatovic highlighted, “There is no shortage of dedication to fighting tax evasion in CESI. Not only are we a member of an EU Tax Platform, but we have many affiliates who are working day-to-day on this fight.”
From the European Commission’s DG TAXUD, Valère Moutarlier outlined EU actions being taken. For Mr Moutarlier, there is a need for strong courage and political will from governments against strong lobbying from the financial sector and businesses in order to succeed in fighting tax fraud.
From France, journalist Antoine Peillon demonstrated the depth of tax evasion in France using the recent UBS scandal as an example. Mr Peillon drew upon a simple equation which would be used throughout the day: by multiplying the number of civil servants working on generating tax revenue, the amount of revenue generated can also be multiplied.
For François Goris, President of supporting CESI member for the seminar, NUOD/UNSP, trade unions are crucial in fighting to keep the resources which allow countries to generate the revenue which funds public services. Trade unions are not only campaigning for their individual affiliates, but for the public good.
From the OECD’s International Cooperation and Tax Administration Division, Jonathan Leigh Pemberton saw progress in the public exposure of tax issues in the EU; this means governments have to act. Mr Leigh Pemberton also outlined the problems with legislation, “If you don’t like the results produced by the rules, you need to change the rules”. The current results produce multinational companies that choose how much tax to pay, if any at all, while workers and citizens directly bear the costs of tax losses.
Drawing on a specific tax system, Donato Raponi from the European Commission used VAT as an example. The most striking point made by Mr Raponi was regarding the VAT gap. Revenue which should be collected in the EU through VAT but which lost equals €200 billion, around 20% of total potential VAT revenue. 10% of this (21€ billion) is the figure cited by the International Labour Organisation which would is needed to resolve the EU’s youth unemployment tragedy.
Following an example of how a grassroots campaign raised awareness about tax evasion from the Danish Tax and Customs Union, the day was rounded of with an introduction from the European Commission of the Fiscalis 2020 programme, which supports cooperation between tax authorities in the EU with the aim of enhancing administrative capacity. More and more countries are becoming proactive in using Fiscalis 202o.
Presentations and programmes from the tax seminar can be read through this link.
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