On July 11, an Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) meeting was held in Brussels. Priorities were given to the Estonian presidency as concerns economic and financial affairs. In the second half of 2017, several taxation issues will be addressed, including the digital economy and modernizing VAT.
Considering possible distortion caused by tax evasion, tax avoidance, tax fraud and potential tax revenue losses for Member States, a negotiation on the definitive cross-border VAT system is expected to be launched soon, according to Estonia. Under this tax system, the definitive added value may be determined in accordance with the principle of taxation at the place of consumption. Besides, the booming cross-border e-commerce trade makes it necessary to modernize VAT for cross-border e-commerce as well. Thus, in order to facilitate cross-border e-commerce for SMEs, combat VAT fraud and ensure a level playing field between EU businesses and third-country businesses, Estonia intends to make progress on the initiative on VAT for e-commerce and conclude discussions on VAT rates for e-books and e-publications.
With the purpose of improving tax fairness and curtailing tax avoidance, the presidency’s agenda also intends to keep carrying forward the effort on a common EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions and improve tax transparency. An agreement on an EU Commission tax transparency proposal has also been reached. The proposal mainly targets tax consultants and agents who provide tax planning service. Once the ECOFIN meeting ends, work on the proposal is to commence very soon, which may be implemented by employing existing automatic information exchange mechanisms, according to Estonian Finance Minister Toomas Tõniste.
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