Tax as a force for good: rebalancing our tax systems to support a global economy fit for the future

On 27 February 2019, ACCA and Deloitte jointly organised an event in Brussels called Tax as a force for good: rebalancing our tax systems to support a global economy fit for the future, in order to explore how shifting tax from labour to natural resource use, pollution and consumption could help meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and an inclusive, circular economy.


Watch the highlights from the event

Gianmarco Monsellato, EU Tax Public Policy Leader at Deloitte EU policy Center, opened the event. Key note speeches were delivered by Florens Flues, from the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, and MEP Heidi Hautala. The panel discussion, moderated by Yen-pei Chen, senior tax manager at ACCA, welcomed Femke Groothuis, President & Wavemaker at The Ex'tax Project, Carola Maggiulli, Head of sector, environmental, energy, transport taxation and FTT at DG TAXUD, Dr Andreas Strub, Head of Unit of Tax Policy, Export Credits and Regional Policy at the Secretariat General of the Council, Clemens Rosenmayr, Policy Advisor, Energy & Environment of Eurochambres, and Constance Hervé-Roux, Corporate Tax Director at Veolia. Gianpiero Nacci, Deputy Head of Energy Efficiency & Climate Change Department at the EBRD gave concluding remarks.

The debate confirmed that EU tax systems are out of sync with the main challenges of our time, such as globalisation, digitisation, climate disruption, pollution, water scarcity, waste, unemployment and underemployment. Climate change and the transition towards a cleaner energy are a priority in the political agenda. The question is how to better balance different tax bases and align policy with the goals of inclusive circular growth. Taxation has an important role to internalise externalities. Specific tax measures, such as a carbon tax, landfill levies or taxes on single-use plastic, may help but they are no longer enough. In order to craft a tax system that is fit for the 21st century, it is necessary to think more widely about what governments should be taxing, and how the tax revenues should be used. 

Several speakers, however, stressed that it is crucial to consider policy intent and its revenue implications together: carbon taxes raise revenue and thus create opportunities, while subsidies and tax expenditures spend revenue and thus harden existing challenges. It is also necessary to consider the impact on environment of environmental taxes, who would pay them, as well as the link with growth and jobs, and whether these taxes would generate sufficient revenues for redistribution. The difficulties to find a uniform answer within the EU to the question was also stressed, but the EU is a useful laboratory to verify what can be agreed between sovereign Member States with a variety of interests. 

For more details read our full report and watch our video with the event's highlights.