On 5 December 2017 the European Tax Adviser Federation (ETAF) hosted the conference “Building an EU tax system” in Brussels which attracted many tax professionals across Europe, stakeholders and high-level decision-makers from the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council.
Commissioner Moscovici, whose keynote speech on the challenges of the European tax policy was highly anticipated, took the chance to present to the audience the newly adopted blacklist of 17 tax havens that seeks to encourage states to increase tax transparency and data exchange with EU authorities. Moscovici equally insisted on some European countries which offer a basis for critical tax planning practices to reform their tax systems.
“The world of taxation has changed”, the Commissioner claimed with regard to the role of multi-national corporations who benefit from uncoordinated tax regimes throughout the Member States as well as in third countries. The international fiscal policy is about to undergo a “revolution of transparency” according to Moscovici, in order to create a fairer tax system within the EU and beyond.
Philippe Arraou, President of ETAF, criticised that the drive towards more transparency "should not target the intermediaries only". Making the intermediaries the target of EU activities would only create an imbalance of burdens for tax intermediaries and businesses. The intent of stricter disclosure rules should be preventing certain tax-planning models applied by businesses, however. Thus, "businesses cannot be treated separately" or left out when it comes to transparency requirements, Arraou demanded.
In two following panels, stakeholders and European decision-makers further discussed the role of tax intermediaries in a fairer EU tax system as well as the challenges of taxation in a digital world. The panellists concluded that despite the political will to reform tax policies, there is an obvious vacuum in the European tax system, which calls for action.