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EU forecasts big increase in VAT gap due to coronavirus

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EU forecasts big increase in VAT gap due to coronavirus

Tax

(BRUSSELS) - Forecasts for 2020 VAT revenues to EU Member States show a potential loss in the region of EUR 164 billion due to effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, as well as fraud and tax evasion.

A European Commission report on the 'VAT Gap' - the difference between expected revenues in EU Member States and the revenues actually collected – shows that EU countries lost an estimated EUR 140 billion in Value-Added Tax (VAT) revenues in 2018.

However, figures for 2020 forecast a reversal of this trend.

In nominal terms, the overall EU VAT Gap slightly decreased by almost €1 billion to €140.04 billion in 2018, slowing down from a decrease of €2.9 billion in 2017. This downward trend was expected to continue for another year, though the coronavirus pandemic is likely to revert the positive trend.

The considerable 2018 VAT Gap, coupled with forecasts for 2020 – which will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic – highlights once again the need for a comprehensive reform of EU VAT rules to put an end to VAT fraud, and for increased cooperation between Member States to promote VAT collection while protecting legitimate businesses. The Commission's recent Fair and Simple Taxation package (July 2020) also details a number of upcoming measures in this area.

"The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered the EU's economic outlook and is set to deal a serious blow to VAT revenues too," said Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni: "At this time more than ever, EU countries simply cannot afford such losses. That's why we need to do more to step up the fight against VAT fraud with renewed determination, while also simplifying procedures and improving cross-border cooperation."

Main results in Member States

As in 2017, Romania recorded the highest national VAT Gap with 33.8% of VAT revenues going missing in 2018, followed by Greece (30.1%) and Lithuania (25.9%). The smallest gaps were in Sweden (0.7%), Croatia (3.5%), and Finland (3.6%). In absolute terms, the highest VAT Gaps were recorded in Italy (€35.4 billion), the United Kingdom (€23.5 billion) and Germany (€22 billion).

Member State

VAT Gap %

VAT Gap (in €mn)

Member State

VAT    Gap %

VAT Gap (in €mn)

Belgium

10.4%

3,617

Lithuania

25.9%

1,232

Bulgaria

10.8%

614

Luxembourg

5.1%

199

Czechia

12.0%

2,187

Hungary

8.4%

1190

Denmark

7.2%

2,248

Malta

15.1%

164

Germany

8.6%

22,077

The Netherlands

4.2%

2,278

Estonia

5.2%

127

Austria

9.0%

2,908

Ireland

10.6%

1,682

Poland

9.9%

4,451

Greece

30.1%

6570

Portugal

9.6%

1,889

Spain

6.0%

4,909

Romania

33.8%

6,595

France

7.1%

12,788

Slovenia

3.8%

148

Croatia

3.5%

252

Slovakia

20.0%

1,579

Italy

24.5%

35,439

Finland

3.6%

807

Cyprus

3.8%

77

Sweden

0.7%

306

Latvia

9.5%

256

United Kingdom

12.2%

23,452

Individual performances by Member States still vary significantly. Overall, in 2018 half of EU-28 Member States recorded a gap above the median of 9.2%, though 21 countries did see decreases compared to 2017, most significantly in Hungary (-5.1%), Latvia (-4.4%), and Poland (-4.3%). The biggest increase was seen in Luxembourg (+2.5%), followed by marginal increases in Lithuania (+0.8%), and Austria (+0.5%).

Full report with detailed information per Member State

Factsheet

Memo


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