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Tackling Taxes – Business Perspectives from across Europe

High VAT complexity, a strong call for clearer tax laws and a pronounced trend towards digitalising tax administration are key themes emerging in Tackling taxes – business perspectives from across Europe.

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Carried out in mid-2016, this joint ICAEW-EGIAN survey provides a unique picture of the aggregate views of more than 170 tax professionals advising businesses on compliance with tax regimes in Europe. Tax professionals play an important role in making the tax system work by helping to ensure that taxpayers make correct returns and pay the right amount of tax at the right time.

This report is based on their day-to-day experience supporting businesses of all sizes, across a wide range of sectors. Insights come from 29 countries, including Europe’s largest economies, eurozone and non-eurozone members, newer and older EU member states as well as European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

The last couple of years have seen global tax policy come under increasing focus. The EU, as one of  the world’s largest economic blocks, has been actively pursuing change both via implementation of global reform measures agreed in other fora such as the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and via a number of initiatives aimed at increasing disclosures by corporates and enhancing transparency on tax rulings. The European Commission has also  re-launched discussions on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) proposal and is seeking to adapt the current VAT system to the realities of e-commerce.

At the same time, we see growing efforts to ‘make tax digital’. The debate about the fundamental impact of a digital tax revolution for citizens, businesses, professionals and administrations has only started. Whatever the outcome, the direction in which Europe is heading is of massive relevance for global efforts to build stronger tax systems.

While there is significant data available, including from the European Commission and the OECD, on key tax indicators, there is little research which takes as its starting point the views of tax professionals advising businesses on how to comply with tax regimes in the EU. Our report aims to help fill this gap. A more granular understanding of which taxes are considered to be particularly difficult to comply with – and how these may be improved – will provide useful input into the wider debates on corporate tax whether at European or international level.