One way cheats avoid paying tax is to hide income earned in another country from authorities in the country where they live and are normally taxed. The EU tries to prevent this from happening within its borders. Current EU rules require the United Kingdom, Ireland and all other member countries to collect information on income earned on their territory by non-residents.
UK and Irish authorities must then provide this information to the EU countries where these people actually live, so the income can be taxed – and EU countries must also send any information on UK and Irish residents to the UK and Ireland.But the scope of the current rules does not include all income, and the Commission wants to close these loopholes – following a request to do so by EU countries.
This is why, from 2015, countries will also be required to exchange information on individuals’ income earned from employment, directors’ fees, life insurance, pensions and property. The Commission is now proposing to close even more loopholes by extending information sharing to also include dividends, capital gains, other financial income and account balances.
Common international approach
A common EU standard for sharing tax information would avoid a situation where EU countries have a patchwork of separate bilateral agreements with the US and other countries outside the EU. It would also ensure that all EU countries benefit from the additional information. Countries would be better able to assess and collect taxes due at home.
The EU would also be in a better negotiating position to push for higher standards of tax information exchange at a global level. In December 2012, the Commission presented a blueprint outlining a more effective EU response to tax evasion and avoidance. The plan highlights the need to promote automatic information exchange as an international standard.
The Commission will work with EU countries to ensure that there is a strong, unified EU position on an international standard at the upcoming G8 summit (June 2013) and G20 summit (September 2013).