On April 28, 2016 the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect (TAXE 2) had an interesting meeting/workshop with 4 external experts (Prof. dr. Elly Van de Velde, John Vella, Prof. dr. Raymond Luja and Karel Volckaert). During the meeting these external experts presented 4 studies they have prepared on request of TAXE 2. But it was also a meeting during which some of the external experts did not refrain from placing some critical notes with respect to the work undertaken so far on combating tax avoidance by multinationals.

 

Mr. Vella for example noted that as lawyer he cannot really work with the term ‘its fair share of tax’. According to Mr. Vella the law is something one can work with, but a term like ‘its fair share of tax’ is interpreted different, by different people. Or in other words what is a fair share of tax to one person, might be found unfair by another. Mr. Vella a.o. also pointed out some potential negative side effects that (public) country-by-country reporting might have.

 

Mr. Luja, on its turn placed a.o. some critical notes with respect to the decisions of the European Commission in the Starbucks and Fiat cases. He noted that the fact that the final decisions of the European Commission in the Fiat and Starbucks cases were not published yet, makes it very difficult to judge whether these decisions were correct or not. According to Mr. Luja it is very hard to come to a well-reasoned opinion on the European Commission’s work in these cases purely based on the press releases issued by the European Commission. He also stated that for the same reason in his view at this moment it is impossible to use these decisions of the European Commission as guidance.

 

And one of the remarks from Mr. Volckaert that struck us most was that he stated that he had the feeling that TAXE 2 never did a real effort to understand how aggressive tax planning structures really work and how aggressive tax planning work is actual done.

 

All in all we found it a very refreshing meeting with valuable contributions made by the external experts. A video of the meeting has now been made available on the website of TAXE 2. It is along seat, but we can recommend the video to all specialist that have been following the work undertaken over the last few years on combating aggressive tax planning.

 

Click here to be forwarded to the website where a video of the meeting of April 28, 2016 is available.

 

While making their presentations, the experts used slides that were made available to the public. Below you will find links to the slides that the external experts used. (NB Mr. Vella had made some adjustments to the slides he used for his presentation).

 

The Future of Tax Rulings in the EU: Evaluation, Confrontation and Recommendations (Prof. dr. Elly Van de Velde)

 

Are we moving in the right direction? Public Disclosure of Tax Information & Other EC/EP Proposals to Reduce Tax Avoidance (John Vella)

 

State Aid Recovery: Its Limits As An Anti-Tax Avoidance Measure (Prof. dr. Raymond Luja)

 

The Role of the Financial Sector in Tax Planning (Karel Volckaert)

 

Unfortunately we were not yet able to locate the actual studies as prepared by the 4 external experts.

 

 

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