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New European Tax Observatory Created by the European Commission
On June 1, the European Commission announced the launch of the European Tax Observatory, a new research laboratory to assist in the EU’s fight against tax abuse. The Observatory will support EU policy-making through research, analysis and data-sharing. It will be independent in conducting its studies and sees its mission in informing policymakers and suggesting initiatives to better combat tax evasion, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning.
The Observatory will be headed by Professor Gabriel Zucman, a French economist specializing in research on tax havens and corporate tax havens with focus on the accumulation, distribution, and taxation of global wealth, and based at the Paris School of Economics. There are plans to turn it into a source of new ideas for combating tax avoidance and a source of knowledge for those studying global taxation.
The official website of the Tax Observatory describes the missions which the organisation sets out to work on:
- To conduct and disseminate cutting-edge innovative research on taxation, with a focus on tax evasion and fraud, and potential solutions to these problems;
- To promote a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic debate on the future of taxation by fostering dialogue between the scientific community, civil society, and policymakers in the European Union and worldwide;
- To provide access to knowledge on taxation by making available to the general public a repository of data and analysis on study topics and interactive tools developed by the Observatory.
The constantly updating Public Repository database at the organisation’s website allows to get acquainted with the current state of research on avoidance and tax evasion in Europe summarized in a form of relevant articles, working papers and reports.
In July 2020, the Commission adopted a Tax Package as a measure to reinforce its fight against tax abuse. The launch of the Tax Observatory is one of numerous actions announced in the Package with the aim of promoting fairer taxation in the EU and outside it. The Tax Observatory’s research will contribute to the Commission’s planning of the future of taxation in the EU.
The Tax Action Plan stipulated by the Package is a set of 25 initiatives the European Commission will implement between 2020 and 2024 to simplify taxation procedures. It provides for the following steps:
- Reduction of tax obstacles and administrative burdens for businesses in the Single Market in order to enhance business competitiveness and stimulate economic growth;
- Helping Member States to enforce existing tax rules and improve tax compliance through secure tax revenues;
- Ensuring tax authorities exploit existing data and share new data more efficiently;
- Educating taxpayers on their rights under EU law, simplifying their obligations and facilitating their compliance.
These initiatives are included into a comprehensive European agenda for the coming years aimed at boosting tax fairness by combatting tax violations and unfair tax competition, as well as by increasing tax transparency.