A raft of European Union legislation will come into effect tomorrow (1 January) including rules aimed at strengthening the fight against tax evasion.
The new law – a directive on administrative co-operation – will mean that EU member states have to work together and share more information about the tax affairs of individuals and businesses.
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-Fraud and Audit, said that the legislation was necessary to put an end to banking secrecy. Member states will no longer be able to refuse to give information to each other.
“These new rules will bring greater transparency, better information exchange and closer co-operation,” Šemeta said.
The law establishes common procedures for exchanging information, designed to make the transmission of data between national authorities quicker and more efficient.
Tax officials from any member state will be able to request that their tax documents and decisions are notified elsewhere in the EU.
Also tomorrow, new rules on value-added tax (VAT) come into effect. The European Commission hopes that they will make VAT compliance easier for businesses.
Under the legislation, electronic invoicing will have to be treated the same as paper invoicing and member states will be allowed to offer a cash accounting option to small businesses with a turnover less than €2 million a year.
Šemeta said that this meant that SMEs would not have to pay VAT until it has been received by the customer, to guard against cash-flow problems.
Food, health and the environment dominates the other pieces of legislation scheduled to take effect tomorrow.
The new year sees new rules on energy labelling of air conditioners, labelling of organic products, how the welfare of animals is protected at the time of slaughter, animal health requirements to protect against specific diseases, emergency measures to prevent the spread of pine wood nematode – a parasite which infects pine trees, and the authorisation of a laboratory in Macedonia to carry out serological tests to monitor the effectiveness of rabies vaccines.
New technical specifications for interoperability of signalling on the trans-European rail system are also coming into effect, there are new quotas for catchable fish and the import of certain textile products, as well as new rules for the trade in rough diamonds.
Also tomorrow, Iliana Ivanova, who was a centre-right MEP from Bulgaria, will officially start her job as Bulgaria's member of the European Court of Auditors. She replaces Nadejda Sandolova, whose term of office expires today (31 December).