After some hesitation (and still not quite sure whether it is a good idea), we (that’s me and my old friend Hiltjo van Dam) have decided to take EUTaxExpert.com offline and to focus all attention on Artikel104.nl. For this reason, I am reposting some of the EUTE-articles. The first installment is below: an article which I wrote about 18 months ago. These seven ideas would make State aid a whole load easier. (And yes, that is me with dark hair…)
Seven ways to make fiscal State aid easier
26 Oct 2014
Over the last month or so, the tax community has been shaken up by a series of developments in the field of fiscal State aid. The most prominent of these are probably the formal investigations into aid allegedly granted to Apple, Fiat and Starbucks. For many undertakings, these developments have come as a unpleasant surprise. As I’ve mentioned before, business is having a difficult time figuring out how to deal with all of this, prospectively but also in relation to existing State aid risks.Can this situation be improved? Although this is a complicated issue, the answer to that question is a plain and simple ‘yes’. Below are seven things which would be helpful in the present context. In no particular order:
- An easily accessible list a measures which are currently under investigation by the European Commission or subject to litigation before the European Courts;
- A way for taxpayers to obtain advance certainty on State aid issues directly from the European Commission. In the best case, this would be through the introduction of EU ports of call in all the Member States;
- Some examples of the quantification of fiscal State aid;
- An online tool to calculate the legal interest which would be due over a particular amount of aid granted at a particular moment in time;
- General information (e.g. about selectivity, recovery, procedural aspects, etc.) in the form of webcasts (again, taking a leaf from the OECD’s BEPS communication strategy);
- A timeline indicating the expected development of the various pending State aid investigations, and preferably, an indication of new developments (along the lines of the BEPS timeframe published by the OECD);
- A recommendation by the European Commission on what an undertaking should do if it suspects that it may have been the recipient of unlawful aid.
Most of the above could be provided either by the European Commission or by the Member States themselves. In some cases, there could even be a role for private parties (e.g. the publishing houses). At any rate, developing even a handful of these suggestions would make life easier on the State aid front. That’s something many of us could use right now.