Benelux Focuses On Strengthened Tax Cooperation
Friday, November 29, 2013
On the recommendation of Dutch Financial State Secretary Frans Weekers, the Benelux
countries of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, intend to initiate a structured
ministerial consultation shortly, aimed at strengthening combined efforts to clamp
down on tax evasion and tax fraud within the region.
The announcement followed a meeting between Dutch Financial State Secretary
Weekers and Belgian State Secretary Crombez. Here, the talks focussed on increasing
cooperation between the Netherlands and Belgium in the fight against tax evasion,
and intensifying and extending this fiscal collaboration within the Benelux
The objective of the ministerial consultation is to reach an agreement on an
increased, faster, and more efficient exchange of tax information between the
tax authorities of the member states, and to improve intelligence. This includes
the collection, management, and linking of data, as well as the development
of risk and analysis models. The measures are to cover indirect tax, such as
value-added tax (VAT); direct taxes, including income tax; and the recovery
of tax debt.
Further, the ministers aim to achieve a consensus on the priorities for combating
In addition, the upcoming discussions in the Benelux Union will center on strengthening
existing direct cross-border cooperation and collaboration between the tax authorities
of the Netherlands and Belgium, and on involving Luxembourg in this partnership.
Given that Luxembourg has agreed to exchange bank information automatically
from January 1, 2015, there should no longer be any obstacles to intensifying
fiscal cooperation with the Grand Duchy, Weekers made clear.
Highlighting the fact that the Netherlands is to assume the presidency of the
Benelux Union from January 1, 2014, Financial State Secretary Weekers emphasized
that this is a "good opportunity" to place a tough approach to fraud
within the Benelux region at the top of the agenda.
Stressing that "the ambition" is to facilitate and speed up information
exchange between the special anti-tax fraud authorities of the Benelux countries,
Weekers insisted that this "is essential" for an effective approach
to cross-border tax evasion.
Concluding, Weekers pointed out that the tax cooperation within the Benelux
Union could serve as a testing ground for cooperation within the European Union.
Given the region's experiences, Benelux countries could "play
a pioneering role for the rest of Europe," Weekers ended.