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Article

Access_open Levying VAT in the EU Customs Union – Towards a Single Indirect Tax Area? The Ordeal of Indirect Tax Harmonisation

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2019
Keywords Single indirect tax area, VAT action plan, quick fixes, e-commerce package, definitive VAT system
Authors Ben Terra
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution deals with the latest proposals regarding levying VAT in the European Union (EU) Customs Union.1x The special fiscal territories are not discussed here. The present system, which has been in place since 1993 and was supposed to be transitional, splits every cross-border transaction into an exempted cross-border supply and a taxable cross-border acquisition. It is like a customs system, but lacks equivalent controls and is therefore the root of cross-border fraud. After many years of unsuccessful attempts, the Commission abandoned the objective of implementing definitive VAT arrangements based on the principle of taxing all cross-border supplies of goods in the Member State of their origin, under the same conditions that apply to domestic trade including VAT rates. The European Parliament and the Council agreed that the definitive system should be based on the principle of taxation in the Member State of the destination of the goods. After a brief discussion of the VAT Action Plan of 2016 (Section 1), the e-commerce package in the form of Directive (EU) 2017/2455 is dealt with (Section 2), followed by the proposal to harmonise and simplify certain rules in the VAT system and introduce the definitive system, only partially adopted (Section 3). Section 4 deals with the proposal to introduce detailed measures of the definitive VAT system. The proposed harmonisation and simplification of certain rules were meant to become applicable on 1 January 2019, but will become only partially applicable on 2020. It is proposed to make the detailed measures of the definitive VAT system applicable in 2022. It remains to be seen whether the Member States are willing to accept the definitive VAT system at all; hence the subtitle ‘the ordeal of indirect tax harmonisation’.

Noten

  • * As mentioned in the introductory to this issue of Erasmus Law Review, the author of this article has passed away. The manuscript of this article is closed on 1 February 2019. Where appropriate, the editors of the special issue have included references to recent developments in footnotes.
  • 1 The special fiscal territories are not discussed here.


Ben Terra
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ben Terra was a professor of tax law at the universities of Amsterdam and Lund and visiting professor at the Universidade Católica in Lisbon.
Article

Access_open Reflections on the 50th anniversary of the EU Customs Union

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2019
Authors Martijn L. Schippers and Walter de Wit

Martijn L. Schippers

Walter de Wit
Article

Access_open Legal Legitimacy of Tax Recommendations Delivered by the IMF in the Context of ‘Article IV Consultations’

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2017
Keywords legitimacy, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Article IV Consultations, tax recommendations, global tax governance
Authors Sophia Murillo López
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution examines the legal legitimacy of ‘Article IV Consultations’ performed by the IMF as part of its responsibility for surveillance under Article IV of its Articles of Agreement. The analysis focuses on tax recommendations given by the Fund to its member countries in the context of Consultations. This paper determines that these tax recommendations derive from a broad interpretation of the powers and obligations that have been agreed to in the Fund’s Articles of Agreement. Such an interpretation leads to a legitimacy deficit, as member countries of the Fund have not given their state consent to receive recommendations as to which should be the tax policies it should adopt.


Sophia Murillo López
Sophia Murillo López, LL.M, is an external PhD candidate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and a member of the ‘Fiscal Autonomy and its Boundaries’ research programme.

    The OECD BEPS Action 6 report contains a principal purpose test rule (PPT rule) for the purpose of combating abuse of tax treaties. This PPT rule is also included in the OECD Multilateral Instrument.
    The PPT rule is (amongst others) applicable when ‘it is reasonable to conclude’ that a benefit (granted by a tax treaty) was one of the principal purposes of any arrangement/transaction. This requirement contains two elements: the reasonableness test and the principal purpose test.
    In literature it is observed that (i) the reasonableness test of the PPT rule could be contrary to the European Union’s principle of legal certainty; (ii) that the OECD PPT rule gives the tax authorities too much discretion and, therefore, is not in line with EU law and (iii) there is doubt whether the OECD PPT rule contains a genuine economic activity test and therefore is in contravention of the abuse of law case law of the CJEU.
    In this contribution, I defend that none of the above-mentioned reasons the OECD PPT rule is contrary to EU law. The only potential problem I see is that the OECD PPT rule is broader (no artificiality required) compared to the GAARs in Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive and the Parent–Subsidiary Directive.


Dennis Weber
Dennis Weber is a professor of European corporate tax law at the University of Amsterdam and director and founder of the Amsterdam Centre for Tax Law (ACTL).
Article

Access_open Tax Competition within the European Union – Is the CCCTB Directive a Solution?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2014
Keywords tax competition, tax planning, European Union, Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, factor manipulation
Authors Maarten de Wilde LL.M
AbstractAuthor's information

    The author addresses the phenomenon of taxable profit-shifting operations undertaken by multinationals in response to countries competing for corporate tax bases within the European Union. The central question is whether this might be a relic of the past when the European Commission’s proposal for a Council Directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base sees the light of day. Or would the EU-wide corporate tax system provide incentives for multinationals to pursue artificial tax base-shifting practices within the EU, potentially invigorating the risk of undue governmental tax competition responses? The author’s tentative answer on the potential for artificial base shifting and undue tax competition is in the affirmative. Today, the issue of harmful tax competition within the EU seems to have been pushed back as a result of the soft law approaches that were initiated in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But things might change if the CCCTB proposal as currently drafted enters into force. There may be a risk that substantial parts of the EU tax base would instantly become mobile as of that day. As the EU Member States at that time seem to have only a single tool available to respond to this – the tax rate – that may perhaps initiate an undesirable race for the EU tax base, at least theoretically.


Maarten de Wilde LL.M
LL.M, Researcher/lecturer, Erasmus University Rotterdam (<dewilde@law.eur.nl>), lecturer, University of Amsterdam, tax lawyer, Loyens & Loeff NV, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This article was written as part of the Erasmus School of Law research programme on ‘Fiscal Autonomy and Its Boundaries’. The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this article.
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