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What is Fiscalis?

The European Parliament and Council Decision 2235/2002/EC of 3 December 2002 instituted a Community Action Programme "Fiscalis 2003 - 2007" intended to improve the operation of the taxation systems in the internal market. It covers Value Added Tax and Excise Duties, Direct Taxation and Taxes on Insurance Premiums. The programme runs from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2007 .

The overall objective of the programme shall be to improve the proper functioning of the taxations systems in the internal market by increasing the co-operation between participating countries, their administrations and officials.

For the VAT and Excise fields, the programme is designed:

  • to enable officials to achieve a high common standard of understanding of Community law and of its implementation in Member States,
  • to secure efficient, effective and extensive cooperation among Member States , and
  • to ensure the continuing improvement of administrative procedures to take account of the needs of administrations and taxpayers through the development and dissemination of good administrative practice.

For the Direct Taxation field, the programme is designed:

  • to provide support for information exchange in the field of mutual assistance and
  • to raise awareness of Community law applicable in the field of direct taxation.

Finally, for taxes on insurance premiums, the programme intends:

  • to improve cooperation between Member States,
  • ensuring better application of the existing rules.

One of the reasons for setting up the programme is to deal with the problem of tax fraud. Therefore the programme assists to:

  • encourage closer co-operation between the authorities in the Member States,
  • to provide training for national officials to familiarise them with the different kinds of fraud and
  • develop prevention, detection and investigation methods based on risk analysis.

The tools available for realising these objectives are

(1) Communication and Information exchange systems

Communication and information exchange infrastructure has a vital part to play in reinforcing the VAT and Excise systems and in particular in guaranteeing the effectiveness and efficiency of their administration.
An example is the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES). With the introduction of the single market on 1 January 1993 , fiscal customs based controls at internal frontiers were abolished and a new VAT control system was put in place for intra-Community trade. Under the current VAT system intra-Community supplies of goods are exempt from VAT in the Member State of despatch when they are made to a taxable person in another Member State who will account for the VAT on arrival. Therefore any taxable person making such supplies must be able to check quickly and easily that their customers in another Member State are taxable persons and hold a valid VAT identification number. For that purpose, inter alia, each tax administration maintains an electronic database containing the VAT registration data of its traders which can be consulted.

(2) Exchanges

The Commission and Member States organise exchanges of officials. The exchanges vary in length, but may not exceed one month. Each exchange is targeted on a particular aspect of work activity and has to be sufficiently prepared so that the full advantage can be obtained. Afterwards the officials and administrations concerned evaluate the exchange to see what lessons can be learned from the experience. Member States enable exchange officials to play an effective part in the host administration's activities. To this end officials are authorised to carry out the task relating to the duties entrusted to them by the host administration in accordance with its legal system.

(3) Seminars

Seminars constitute a good framework for the exchange of ideas on particular topics between officials of the national administrations, Commission representatives and other experts, if necessary. From the seminars suggestions may emerge for improving the legal instruments in force or facilitating co-operation between administrations. In 2003 and 2004, seminar topics included among others:

  • Simplified Procedures for Movement of Excisable Goods (Egmond aan Zee 2004)
  • Operators' Liability in the intra-Community movement of products subject to excise duties (Bordeaux 2003)
  • New VAT Invoice Legislation (Gothenburg 2003)
  • The fight against fraud in the motor industry (Lille 2003)
  • VAT treatment of services in the public interest (Lisbon 2003)
  • Heads of Central Liaison Offices Meeting (Athens 2003, Budapest 2004)
  • Heads of Excise Liaison Offices Meeting (Birmingham 2004)
  • Improvement in the Quality of Multilateral Controls (Egmond aan Zee 2004)
  • Mutual assistance for recovery of tax claims in the area of Direct taxation (Allicante 2003)
  • Training seminars for Candidate countries on Risk Analysis, Special VAT Schemes, Transfer Pricing, Computer Audit, VAT Warehouse Arrangements, carousel fraud and e-services.

(4) Multilateral controls

They involve the collaboration of at least two tax administrations, integrating and co-ordinating their controls of "taxable persons" (multinationals) having indirect tax obligations in each of the Member States concerned, to ensure nothing gets "overlooked". Multilateral control exercises are also intended to develop new forms of co-operation and to identify obstacles to co-operation to be tackled and eliminated. It is the only tool which is exclusively focused on in-the-field control activities. The tool has provided a clear example of the benefits of administrative co-operation in practice.