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New tax rules to help EU business to recovery

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New tax rules to help EU business to recovery

Paolo Gentiloni - Photo - © European Union

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission set out its plans for a new business taxation system Tuesday, promising a more robust, efficient and fair system to support Europe's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 'Communication on Business Taxation for the 21st century' puts forward both a long-term and short-term vision to support recovery as well as to ensure adequate public revenues over the coming years.

The Commission says the Communication, which takes account of progress made in G20/OECD discussions on global tax reform, aims to create an 'equitable and stable business environment', which can boost sustainable and job-rich growth in the EU and increase our open strategic autonomy.

"The renewal of the transatlantic relationship offers an opportunity to make decisive progress towards a global tax reform," said economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni: "We must work to seize that opportunity, while ensuring that an international agreement protects Europe's key interests."

The EU executive says that, first, it will present by 2023 a new framework for business taxation in the EU, which will reduce administrative burdens, remove tax obstacles and create a more business-friendly environment in the Single Market. The "Business in Europe: Framework for Income Taxation" (or BEFIT) will provide a single corporate tax rulebook for the EU, providing for fairer allocation of taxing rights between Member States. BEFIT will cut red tape, reduce compliance costs, minimise tax avoidance opportunities and support EU jobs and investment in the Single Market. BEFIT will replace the pending proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, which will be withdrawn. The Commission will launch a broader reflection on the future of taxation in the EU, which will culminate in a Tax Symposium on the "EU tax mix on the road to 2050" in 2022.

Second, today's Communication also defines a tax agenda for the next two years, with measures that promote productive investment and entrepreneurship, better safeguard national revenues, and support the green and digital transitions. This builds on the ambitious roadmap set out in the Tax Action Plan, presented by the Commission last summer. Measures will include:

  • Ensuring greater public transparency by proposing that certain large companies operating in the EU publish their effective tax rates. The abusive use of shell companies will also be tackled through new anti-tax avoidance measures;
  • Supporting the recovery by addressing the debt-equity bias in the current corporate taxation, which treats debt financing of companies more favourably than equity financing. This proposal will aim to encourage companies to finance their activities through equity rather than turning to debt.

Third, the Commission has adopted today a Recommendation on the domestic treatment of losses. The Recommendation prompts Member States to allow loss carry-back for businesses to at least the previous fiscal year. This will benefit businesses that were profitable in the years before the pandemic, allowing them to offset their 2020 and 2021 losses against the taxes they paid before 2020. This measure will particularly benefit SMEs.

Text of the Communication

Future-proof taxation - proposals for new 
business tax agenda - guide

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