Fabian Demicoli

Common tax base good but plans still too complex for SMEs

A common tax base could dramatically reduce compliance costs for small companies operating cross-border in the EU. However, the plans for a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) unveiled by the European Commission are too complex and not in line with the needs of SMEs. GRTU's Brussels representatives urged the Commission to provide a small business friendly version of the CCCTB. The organisation also raised doubts on the CCCTB being optional. This would add a 28th tax system to the 27 existing ones, complicate the status quo, oblige Member States to run two systems at the same time and create an extra opportunity for "tax engineering".

 

Compliance costs for small businesses taxed in more than one Member State can be as high as 2.5% of turnover, as opposed to a mere 0.02% for larger corporations. We are in favour of a Europe-wide tax base, which would dramatically reduce costs and remove an obstacle to more intra-EU trade for SMEs.

While the Commission must be praised for putting the CCCTB proposal on the table, the communication is extremely complicated and was clearly not written with small companies in mind. We doubt that the text as it stands will bring about concrete advantages for SMEs, unless a simplified version for smaller enterprises is provided.

Leaving the application of the common tax base as an option would mean adding a 28th system to Europe's 27 diverse and inconsistent tax regimes. Member States would have to run two systems in parallel, with a different tax base and possibly different tax rates. On the other hand, optionality would also create an extra opportunity to practice „tax engineering‟. It is hard to see how this could improve the current situation, especially as far as SMEs are concerned.

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