ACCA welcomes today the publication by the European Commission of its Action Plan aiming to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion. For the global accountancy body, the plan identifies specific and appropriate measures and ACCA shares the view that it is instrumental to start with ensuring the proper use of existing legislative instruments.
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at ACCA, says: 'Many of the ideas in the Action Plan are really common sense and should therefore be supported. However, their implementation will require member states to work much more closely with one another for their own national interest but also in a way that will improve the tax take across the EU.'
Chas Roy-Chowdhury explains: 'The Action Plan represents a big bold comprehensive initiative from the European Commission and we welcome it. Our only concern is that short and even medium-term implementation is likely to prove ambitious. For instance, while it makes perfect sense to have a rapid exchange of information between member states in order to combat direct and indirect tax fraud, all member states may not be able to implement this system at the same speed. However there is no doubt that this is something which can be remedied over time.
'Similarly, we agree with the Commission’s proposal to improve the identification of taxpayers, the step-by-step creation of a European tax identification number (TIN) and the launch of 'TIN on EUROPA'. Here again, implementation is likely to be complicated as each Member State currently relies on its own IT architecture, hardware and software. These systems may well be configured in such a way that they could not handle such a change without requiring expensive modernisation.'
'We also commend the idea of a single VAT web portal, which will help member states and businesses to get their VAT right. In the same vein, we strongly support the VAT forum of businesses and member states, to which ACCA is happy to actively participate,' Chas Roy-Chowdhury adds.
In addition, ACCA supports the idea of a voluntary single VAT return and has presented its views accordingly in the framework of Fiscalis 2013, which is an EU cooperation programme enabling national tax administrations to create and exchange information and expertise.
'We consider that best practices across member states should be shared and adopted and that joint audits between member states' tax authorities is the way forward. We are probably less keen on the burden of a standard audit file,' Chas Roy-Chowdhury underlines.
Given the organisation’s global outreach, ACCA strongly agrees that tax havens should not be conduits for tax evasion.
'We need co-ordinated measures proposing both defensive instruments and incentives to fight against unfair practices, and countries which do not co-operate in combating fraud and tax evasion should be put on a list. However, we should not allow the focus on offshore jurisdictions to become an excuse for failed compliance policies by EU countries and the deficiencies of the global financial system,' Chas Roy Chowdhury concludes.