Tax To Go gives a snapshot of the latest political and legislative developments on taxation policy at the EU level. In this week’s issue we feature (1) 2016 Q4 tax agenda – what’s ahead of us? (2) Apple, Ireland and state aid – two weeks on

François Barry
Consultant

2016 Q4 tax agenda – what’s ahead of us?

Rarely has taxation policy taken so much space in the EU agenda than in 2016. In the Council, member states adopted an anti-tax avoidance directive (ATAD) and agreed on country-by-country reporting to tax authorities. In the Parliament, no sooner had the special committee on tax rulings (TAX2) submitted its final recommendations than a committee of inquiry into money laundering and tax avoidance/evasion (PANA) was set up. Meanwhile, one action plan after another, the Commission made sure the legislative agenda was kept fuelled, and the year is not over yet – so what is ahead of us in the next three months?

In the Council … countries will shortly agree another revision of the administrative cooperation directive, for tax authorities to be given access to the national beneficial ownership registries. Then, based on a screening by the Commission, the Code of Conduct Group will identify non-cooperative countries to start dialogue with, with a view to establishing an EU blacklist of tax havens sometime in 2017. The Council will also shortly adopt its non-legislative conclusions on the latest Commission communication on tax avoidance. Finally, after yet another extension this summer of the deadline for a final decision, the 10 member states negotiating the creation of a financial transaction tax will meet again on 11 October.

In the Parliament … PANA will hold a first hearing on 27 September with the journalists behind the Panama Papers revelations. Over the summer, MEP Jeppe Kofod (S&D, Denmark), former TAX2 co-rapporteur, was confirmed as PANA co-rapporteur, alongside Petr Ježek (ALDE, Czech Republic) who had been appointed already in early July. There seems to be growing distrust between PANA and the Council. The reason? A leaked document dated 1 July where the Council’s legal service questioned the obligation for member states to participate in the works of the committee. Yet MEPs appear committed to invite national ministers to testify before the committee. Expect political pressure to be a main driver for PANA’s success.

In the Commission … a public consultation is about to be opened to gather feedback on ways to increase oversight on tax advisers. The busiest month will be November though, when the Commission puts forward a legislative package (expected on 9 Nov) including a proposal to improve double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms; another on hybrid mismatches with third countries (when companies exploit the fact that countries treat the same income/entities differently for tax purposes); and the long-awaited relaunch of the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), first with a proposal for a common tax base only. A legislative package on VAT in e-commerce and e-publications/books is also expected on 30 November.

In the Parliament/Council … co-legislative work is just starting on the revision of the anti-money laundering directive. A draft report is expected in the Parliament by late October. Lastly, work on the controversial proposal on public country-by-country reporting is moving slowly in the Parliament, where a dispute over which committee should take the lead has so far prevented MEP Evelyn Regner (S&D, Austria) from even presenting a draft report. Surprisingly enough, the Council is moving faster on this file, despite strong reservations from several countries, especially from Germany which is allegedly considering abstaining from voting once there is a compromise text on the Council’s table – probably around Nov-December.

Read more