Fabian Demicoli

GRTU expresses concerns ahead of EESC Study Group meeting on the EU Proposal for Fair and Efficient Corporate Taxation in the EU

Whilst acknowledging that a closer corporate taxation system at European level could support more coherence in terms of dealing with different tax regimes across the EU, GRTU’s understanding on the effects upon small and island economies such as Malta remain of major concern. Harmonisation in this field of policy along various fronts can lead to an understanding of having the possibility of a one-size-fits-all scenario, which across the realities and make-ups of the Member States’ economies within the EU, may be close to impossible unless it provides unfair advantages to the larger and higher-taxed jurisdictions.

There a number of concerns which effect Malta and its SMEs. In the first instance, such measures are assumed to benefit SMEs in bringing taxation regimes closer in perhaps a bid to make it more straight forward for the potentiality of specific SMEs to engage in business across EU Member State borders. Nevertheless one should firstly not assume that this is the only challenge for SMEs to engage in such cross-border business and moreso, it should not be entertained that not moving towards such policy direction is undermining SME interests in Malta in any way.

First of all, GRTU stands by the principle of subsidiarity and therefore where possible policy decisions should always be taken closer to home. This is a principle that also supports the concept of thinking small first, which allows SMEs and their respective representatives to influence the agenda closer to home. This implies the notion of fiscal sovereignty, which in terms of SME interests in Malta maintains that Malta as a Member State remains in control of its fiscal and taxation policy. This allows a micro-economy like ours to apply policy as would make best sense in terms of our national priorities and allows for adaption towards fiscal well-being in proportion to our small size and economy. Small economies need to retain and maximise their potential flexibility which is an advantage often weighed out by other cons of being of such small size and limited in resources. In turn this also allows for healthy tax competition across Member States. Initiatives driving towards a one-size-fits-all fiscal and taxation policy imply that we are also pushing towards no incentivisation of competitiveness in terms of tax regimes. This will allow a status quo and lack of initiative to re-invent taxation regimes for business  attractiveness – something which all SMEs across Europe would benefit from, but most of all which small island economies like Malta can adapt and renovate in, yet would be unable to if we go head-first towards this direction.

Conditionalities and optionalities still remain – and this is understandable in order not to allow rigidity of entrenched systems to be in one way or other undermining business potential and realities in any Member States. Yet, therefore if this road is to be taken, allowing optionality, one would be risking all the undermining factors for SMEs and related business whilst still providing an opt-out in cases of larger and stronger economies for specific cases which would en toto result detrimental to SMEs from smaller states. This optionality also provides a burdensome system for Maltese SMEs which are often smaller in size and setup than their European counterparts.It is also not guaranteed that any eventual sharing mechanisms based on the formulae proposed, would definitely result in fair and equitable results and may therefore favour the revenue towards larger Member States.

The clear argumentations of small economy setups vis-à-vis their larger counterparts and lack of adequate practical one-size-fits-all apparatus which would benefit all on an equal footing, show that before heading forth with such policy direction, one has to rethink the practical impact on all Member States and forms of entrepreneurial settings within each, prior to designing any such form of way forward.

 

 

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