Hosting a conference on Exchange of Information in the EU

Tax Administration Bulletin, 9/16/2015

The Tax Administration is the host of a conference in Helsinki on 16 to 18 September for the managers of tax information exchange in the member countries of the European Union. The Finnish Tax Administration aims at making the international exchange of information as efficient as possible. Countries that receive the information should use it widely.

A number of corporate and individual taxpayers have operations in more than one countries. Because tax administrations must collect the right amount of tax, they need information on their taxpayer's activity in a foreign country.

It is the objective of the Finnish Tax Administration to advance the international exchange of information in order to help narrow the tax gap in Finland and the EU. This requires that every country can rely on reciprocal systems that can deliver the information promptly, retain a high level of information quality, and make sure that recipients utilize the facts and information they get. There is also a need for an enhanced cooperation between the participants in a network.

The agenda of the conference covers newly introduced methods of cooperation and tools, keeping international registers and records up-to-date, discussions on how transparency could be maintained and increased.

The conference also discusses an initiative suggested by Finland regarding the necessity to work together in a more focused way when information on direct and indirect taxes is being exchanged between the countries.

Exchange of tax information within the EU

Each participating country typically has tax jurisdiction in its own territory only, so bilateral and multilateral agreements and conventions must be signed between them in order to create a sufficient legal base for tax information exchange. Information may be exchanged on request spontaneously without having received any request; it may be specific to a certain case or event, or it can be a transmission of “bulk” information concerning a large number of taxpayers.

EU law lays down the provisions that serve as the legal base for information exchange: all countries are required to participate in it. Special attention is given to VAT information and tax examinations that are carried out simultaneously in several countries. We also exchange bulk information, including details on payments of taxable income to taxpayers.

Finland is also a signatory of the convention of OECD and the Council of Europe on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters.