We were delighted to welcome Mr Bert Zuijdendorp, Head of Unit Company Taxation Initiatives at the European Commission. The event was a huge success and generated an excellent discussion on a range of topics such as digital taxation, the push for a global consensus on corporate taxation reform, and the priorities of the incoming European Commission in this area.
These priorities will be strongly focused on pushing for an overhaul and modernisation of corporate taxation laws, in particular developing a framework for the implementation and enforcement of digital taxation. This issue has proved difficult until now for many reasons, not least the fact that the digital economy is difficult to define in the first place. As a result, policy developments have been slow, but the ongoing discussions within the OECD and G20 could offer some hope of progress.
Future EU policy will depend on the outcomes of these discussions. The new Commission will aim to support the push for a global consensus, however Ms von der Leyen has emphasised that in the event of non-consensus a collective EU approach to the subject would still be preferable to unilateral action from individual member states.
In the short term, EU policy has attempted to combat this issue with the introduction of a Digital Services Tax, however a longer term goal of the Commission is to create more concrete reforms that bring the corporate tax system up to date with the modern economy. There is a balance to be found here, though, as there is a risk of overdoing the reform and simply adding further complexities to the system rather than remedying any specific shortfalls.
The USA are crucial in determining the possibility of intercontinental agreement, and much has been made of the difficulty in finding a solution which suits their needs. A significant proportion of the US economy involves digital services, so any digital taxation reform is likely to have a significant impact on this. Currently, however, it is difficult to distinguish between a US position on the issue and a Trump position – if indeed they can be considered separate at all. The European Commission is hopeful that there is more clarity and cooperation to come from the US in future.
Tobias Steinmann, Director of Public Affairs at EPRA, attended the event and had this to say on its success: “I very much appreciate the technical expertise shared today alongside a political oversight on new Commission issues that certainly are in the focus of our industry.”
Head of Unit Company Taxation and Initiatives | European Commission
Bert Zuijdendorp heads the 'Company Taxation Initiatives' unit in the European Commission's Taxation and Customs Union Directorate-General. He is in charge of EU directives and policy initiatives in the area of corporate taxation. Recent initiatives include the 2015 Action Plan on fairer corporation taxation, the 2016 Anti-Tax Avoidance Package and the relaunch of the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, as well the 2018 proposals in the area of digital taxation. Before joining the Commission, Bert Zuijdendorp held various positions in the Dutch Ministry of Finance in both national and international tax policy.