Debate has begun on a proposal by the European Commission to abolish national vetoes, with Cyprus expressing – once again – its opposition.
Cyprus opposes the Commission’s proposal on the abolition of veto in the field of EU tax policy, something that today requires the unanimity of the Member States. The reaction of the Member States on this subject is well known, and the Commission’s proposal, for the time being, fails to obtain a consensus within the Council of Member States.
The Finance Ministry of Cyprus has sent the message that it will not accept this amendment which endangers the country’s tax rate. It is noted that the ultimate goal of the proposed reform is a single tax base across the EU, something that Cyprus opposes – with the support of strong allies.
More specifically, a document prepared by the Commission proposes the abolition of national vetoes on fiscal policy. The document states that “unanimity has hindered progress in important tax initiatives needed to strengthen the single market and boost its EU competitiveness with a detrimental effect”. And in another point, it is noted that unanimity is “self-defeating,” giving as an example the tax on large digital companies and the tax on financial transactions.
However, the Commission’s approach is gradual and proposes, initially, the abolition of the veto on budgetary issues that do not affect domestic tax policy (such as tax fraud, for example) and then, towards the end of 2020, more sensitive issues to also be included within the enhanced majority system.
Finally, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici has described the unanimity rule in the taxation sector more and more anachronistic in political terms, legally problematic and economically counterproductive.
By Demetra Landou
Tax authorities could do more to realise the full potential of new technology to reduce the tax compliance burdens on taxpayers, according to the 2019 edition of the annual Paying Taxes report, produced by PwC and The World Bank Group.
Paying Taxes 2019 draws upon a comparison of the taxation of business in 190 economies. The report models business taxation in each economy using a medium-sized domestic case study company. The report has found that the global average results for the compliance burden for business taxation are almost unchanged across four key measures: time to comply (237 hours); number of payments (23.8); Total Tax and Contribution Rate, or TTCR (40.4%) and Post-Filing index (59.6 out of 100).
Paying Taxes 2019 illustrates how developments in tax software, real time reporting systems and data analytics are transforming the capabilities of tax administration. It also highlights that implementing new technologies for tax compliance can increase the administrative burden, at least in the short term, and that such implementation requires careful planning and consultation.
The report also explores the impact of differing levels of regulation and skills on the enforcement of tax through tax audits. Audits can vary hugely in their duration and complexity – taxpayers can spend up to 128 hours gathering information for an audit, though for many it takes only a few hours. Improving tax officers’ skills is vital if a well-functioning tax system is to be sustained. 97% of economies offer training to tax officers, but, only 35% of economies provide regular training.
According to the results while many economies have made considerable improvements in their tax systems in recent years, the findings also suggest that some economies are finding it difficult to implement online filing and payment due to the lack of IT infrastructure, cultural barriers and complex legislation. Paying Taxes also notes that governments will need to take account of how new technology affects the nature and patterns of employment and profit generation and the consequent impact on the income streams that are available to be taxed.