EESC urges collaboration for the effective implementation of the Head Office Tax system in Europe

To bolster small business growth in the EU, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs the Commission's Head Office Tax (HOT) system proposal. In its advisory opinion, the EESC advocates additional measures and emphasises the need for stronger collaboration among the Commission, Member States and representatives of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) for effective implementation and awareness.

SMEs play a pivotal role in the EU's economic landscape, constituting a staggering 99.8% of non-financial business sector enterprises. These companies contribute significantly to employment (66.6%) and added value (56.8%) in Europe. Recognising their importance, the Commission's proposal for a Head Office Tax system is part of the broader SME Relief Package, offering various measures to alleviate regulatory burdens and simplify tax procedures.

Here are the main EESC recommendations for the effective implementation of the Head Office Tax System in Europe.

Urgency to adopt

EESC rapporteur Katrīna Zariņa emphasises the urgency of adopting the HOT system to catalyse the growth of MSMEs. The system specifically targets standalone SMEs engaged in cross-border operations through permanent establishments. The proposed reduction in corporate income tax compliance costs aligns with the EESC's broader objective of creating an environment conducive to long-term GDP and employment growth.

Extending inclusivity

While supporting the proposal's focus on standalone MSMEs initially, the EESC calls for an evaluation of the possibility to extend the HOT system to include SMEs operating through subsidiaries during the planned ex-post assessment five years after the directive comes into force. This consideration aims to enhance the inclusivity and effectiveness of the system.

Complementarity and vigilance

The EESC acknowledges the complementary nature of the HOT system and the Business in Europe: Framework for Income Taxation (BEFIT) proposal. However, it emphasises the need for vigilance regarding the coexistence of different legal frameworks, urging the European Commission to monitor and address potential fragmentation and discrepancies that may arise.

Cooperation for success

Enhanced cooperation between tax authorities in Member States is crucial for the success of the HOT system. The EESC believes that fostering collaboration is essential for meaningful implementation and achieving the proposed objectives. The EESC also stresses the importance of Member States taking swift action to adapt their IT systems and raise awareness among MSMEs regarding the benefits of the HOT mechanism.

As the European Union takes steps towards adopting the Head Office Tax system, collaborative efforts between the Commission, Member State and representatives of MSMEs will play a pivotal role in realising the full potential of this strategic initiative.

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