Weekly Tax News – 28 October 2019

European Parliament pushes for public CbCR

On Thursday 24 October, during the plenary session in Strasbourg, the Members of the European Parliament have adopted by large majority a resolution criticizing the deadlock in the Council on the proposal for public country-by-country reporting. The proposal would require companies to make certain financial data such as turnover, profit and taxes paid public. The adopted resolution calls on the Finnish Presidency to urgently prioritize the work on the basis of the proposal adopted by the European Parliament at first reading. The change of position of Germany, expressed in September by the Finance Minister Olaf Scholz who agreed to support the proposal, could unblock the negotiations in the Council. However, in the course of the debate with the Finnish Presidency, Tytti Tuppurainen (Finland's Minister for European Affairs) highlighted that there were still unsolved political issues preventing an agreement in the Council.

G20 supports the OECD approach to tax the digital economy

On Friday 18 October, during a G20 meeting in Washington Finance Ministers from the world’s most powerful economies gave their green light to the proposal for a “Unified Approach” put forward by the Secretariat of the OECD to tackle the issue of taxing highly digitalized and consumer-facing businesses. On 20 October, the OECD, the IMF and the World Bank organized a conference in Washington to discuss the proposal with government organizations, civil society and businesses. Pascal Saint-Amans (Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD) explained that the “Unified Approach” was meant to accelerate the discussions in order to find an agreement by the end of 2020, so that a chaos in the international tax system due to unilateral initiatives of countries could be avoided. On the other hand, Irene Ovonji-Odida, Member of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) criticized the OECD approach for adding another layer of complexity whilst there is a need for simplification, in particular for developing countries that lack administrative capacity.

Italy includes plastic and sugar taxes in its budgetary law

On 21 October, the Italian Council of Ministers made some new amendments to the 2020 Italian law bill. One of the most controversial proposals is the so-called sugary tax, which seeks to impose an excise of €10 per hectolitre on sweetened drinks. Furthermore, in line with the current trend of using taxation for environmental purposes, Italy has planned to introduce a plastic tax of one euro per kilo of plastic used for packaging. With regard to the digital economy, Italy has introduced a digital tax in line with the model proposed by the European Commission in 2018 (i.e. 3% tax rate on revenues of digital businesses) that should enter into force from 1 January 2020.