Los expertos piden una reforma fiscal equitativa y antifraude

March 18th, 2014

Excelente artículo analítico escrito por Ana Balseriro de “La Voz de Galicia” sobre la petición de expertos y agentes sociales de una reforma fiscal de alcance,  que solucione la falta crónica de capacidad recaudatoria, recupere la equidad, simplifique el sistema y reduzca la sangría del fraude.

El informe de la comisión de sabios que preside Manuel Lagares y que servirá de base a la reforma tributaria del Gobierno está listo. El ministro de Hacienda recibirá las conclusiones el jueves 13 y las elevará al Consejo de Ministros del 14, con una semana de retraso sobre lo anunciado inicialmente por Montoro.

Pero a la espera de las recomendaciones de la comisión Lagares, expertos y agentes sociales insisten -al hilo de los últimos anuncios de Rajoy- en pedir una reforma fiscal de alcance, que solucione la crónica falta de capacidad recaudatoria, recupere la equidad, simplifique el sistema y reduzca la sangría del fraude. «El margen de maniobra del Gobierno va a depender de si la economía despega con fuerza. Pero sería bueno que se revirtieran las medidas introducidas que están haciendo daño a contribuyentes y empresas. La crisis nos ha llevado a un estado de excepción tributario y hay que ponerle fin», resume Ricardo Gómez-Acebo, socio de Deloitte Abogados. Algunas propuestas de los expertos para los grandes impuestos se detallan a continuación:

IRPF

Deshojando la margarita de la rebaja impositiva. El vehículo recaudatorio por excelencia, el impuesto sobre la renta de las personas físicas (IRPF), divide a los especialistas, aunque hay consenso en reducir los tipos, al menos para las rentas más bajas. El centenar de expertos que integran el Consenso Fiscal que elabora semestralmente PwC y que acaba de publicarse bajo el título de Un punto de partida para la reforma fiscal, recoge la opinión de que hay que reducir la presión fiscal. «Lo primero que hay que hacer es crear un sistema que tenga una capacidad recaudatoria significativa y que esté bien gestionado», señala Ignacio Zubiri, catedrático de Hacienda de la Universidad del País Vasco, que resume los objetivos de la reforma en «depurar bonificaciones, cerrar vías de elusión y reducir el fraude», añadiendo que «inicialmente no deben aumentarse los tipos de los impuestos más importantes».

¿Mantener o no el sistema dual? En la misma línea de Zubiri está la batería de propuestas enviada por el sindicato de técnicos de Hacienda (Gestha) al ministerio, abogando, entre otras cosas, por «reducir los efectos contrarios a la progresividad derivados de la dualidad fiscal de las rentas del trabajo y del capital, excluyendo las ganancias especulativas del concepto de renta del ahorro», e incluyendo las rentas generadas en sicavs (vehículos de inversión de las grandes fortunas), fondos de inversión o sociedades instrumentales. Desde la CEOE, sin embargo, plantean mantener el sistema dual del IRPF con un tipo de gravamen único sobre el ahorro, mientras que piden eliminar el recargo adicional temporal que se aprobó para los años 2012 y 2013 y que se ha prorrogado este 2014. A favor de esta supresión también se posiciona Ricardo Gómez-Acebo, de Deloitte, por considerar que «aunque el IRPF ha sido de los impuestos que mejor han aguantado la crisis, en parte por la introducción del gravamen especial que elevó los tipos entre los más altos de Europa, a medio y largo plazo el efecto es perjudicial y no se mantiene la recaudación». También el recientemente fallecido David Taguas, en su última entrevista a La Voz, defendía un IRPF de tipo único (flat tax) con un mínimo exento «lo suficientemente elevado».

IVA

¿Subirlo o mantenerlo? Montoro aseguró que no se tocaría de nuevo. Sus palabras apagaron el incendio que provocó la filtración de que el comité Lagares propondría subir el IVA, algo sobre lo que este lunes volvió a insistir la presidenta del FMI, Christine Lagarde, en el Global Forum Spain de Bilbao. Desde el Registro de Asesores Fiscales (REAF) del Consejo General de Economistas defienden que se estudie la eliminación de algunas exenciones y de operaciones a tipo reducido, revisando los regímenes especiales. La patronal, por su parte, se opone a cualquier subida del impuesto y también «a desplazar bienes y servicios desde tipos reducidos al general», por entender que repercutiría en la ya debilitada demanda interna y comprometería la recuperación. Los sindicatos lo comparten. Zubiri defiende «depurar» los tipos reducidos porque tienen un coste elevado (más del 40 % de la recaudación) y sus ganancias de equidad son dudosas, ya que, en realidad, los ricos se ahorran más que los pobres. «Habría que tender, como en Dinamarca, a un sistema de tipo único con algunos bienes esenciales a tipo cero». Eliminar las declaraciones simplificadas y establecer mecanismos efectivos de lucha contra el fraude son propuestas de consenso.

Sociedades

Corregir la brecha entre el tipo nominal y el efectivo. Hay diversas opiniones. Gestha, por ejemplo, plantea establecer «uno o varios tipos impositivos superiores» para las bases imponibles positivas superiores al millón de euros. Así se nivelaría el tipo medio efectivo con las pymes y microempresas, a la vez que se eliminan los beneficios fiscales y la mayoría de las deducciones. Desde Deloitte Abogados, el socio en Galicia Fernando Vázquez defiende una «simplificación». «Se trataría de eliminar las deducciones que quedan» y reducir el tipo impositivo nominal para acercarlo al efectivo.

Otros impuestos

Nuevas fórmulas y lucha contra el fraude. Zubiri subraya que la forma de luchar contra el fraude es «haciendo que no sea rentable». Los expertos también plantean nuevas figuras impositivas, como clarificar la fiscalidad medioambiental o crear impuestos sobre la contaminación o las transacciones financieras.

Artículo original en:

http://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/economia/2014/03/06/expertos-piden-reforma-fiscal-equitativa-antifraude/0003_201403G6P34992.htm

Fair Tax Mark to reward tax justice

February 24th, 2014

¨In this interesting article published by The Guardian and written by Craig Scott, the author discusses the relevance, pros & cos of the Tax Mark launching as a reward for transparency and fairness in corporate taxation practices and policies.¨

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” For many, Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote encapsulates everything we need to know about the inevitability of taxes. Yet over the past few years, it has become apparent that, for an increasing number of multinational companies, when it comes to tax, nothing is certain.

Google, Facebook and Amazon have all been criticised recently for the level of corporation tax they pay in the UK, but perhaps it was the US coffee giant Starbucks that attracted the most opprobrium when it was revealed in 2012 that the firm, at the time worth $40bn (£24bn), reportedly paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years.

These companies aren’t breaking any laws – they are simply taking advantage of the complexity of the corporate tax system.

Politicians are starting to act: plans were announced at last year’s G20 to close loopholes in the tax system. Public anger is also growing – in a recent survey commissioned by Christian Aid, 34% of Britons said they are currently boycotting a company because it does not pay its fair share of tax.

So how can the problem of corporate tax avoidance be tackled and the public’s understanding of the issue improved? At a recent roundtable discussion, hosted by the Guardian in association with Midcounties Co-operative, participants discussed the pros and cons of the Fair Tax Mark, which will launch today.

The Fair Tax Mark will use a set of metrics to assess companies on their tax and transparency. Companies that score a minimum of 13 out of 20 will be awarded a Fair Tax Mark. According to one of the directors of the Fair Tax Mark, Richard Murphy, the aim of the scheme is to allow companies who are paying the right amount of tax to stand out. “There are good companies in this world,” he said. “There are exemplars of good practice who are trying to pay the right amount of tax.”

How much is enough?

Yet for some participants, defining what the “right amount of tax” is could be problematic. “How do you pin down what a fair tax rate is?” asked Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. “There are all sorts of dynamics that come into it; even tax experts wouldn’t necessarily agree with each other.”

For Murphy, “right” means that the “economic substance” of what a company is doing in a certain country has to be reflected in the tax it pays. If the company only has a “filing cabinet” in that area, rather than having staff, sales and assets there, yet is supposedly generating a vast amount of profit, “that looks like a tax arrangement”.

He went on to tell the roundtable how a system of awarding “bonus points” would ensure the Fair Tax Mark didn’t unfairly penalise companies that had paid a low rate of tax for legitimate reasons. If, for example, a firm was entitled to tax relief to offset investment in R&D, the rating would accommodate this – as long as these reasons were disclosed.

This bonus marking system went some way to allaying the concerns of a few participants who felt that an earlier iteration of the Fair Tax Mark was too simplistic in its approach to tackling tax avoidance.

There are many other legitimate reasons why a company would not have to pay the headline rate of tax, said Mike Truman, editor of Taxation Magazine. “If you are operating within the law you shouldn’t be penalised,” he stressed.

Ken Olisa, corporate director of Thomas Reuters, said the tax system was dealing with very complicated issues; if it was reduced to something simple, it could inflame the public with headline views and “damage business and democracy”.

Olisa believed encouraging companies to be transparent about their tax affairs was a better approach. “Let the public and media form their [own] views,” he said.

But some participants felt the public would embrace having an easy way to tell if a company was paying a fair amount of tax or not, without becoming swamped with information. “All consumers want to know,” said Robert Hodgkins of the ICAEW, “is has it passed, or failed?”

“We are only going to be giving the mark to people who want it … we are not going to stand in judgement,” said Murphy, who was keen to emphasise companies would have to apply to receive Fair Tax Mark accreditation. The standard wouldn’t be imposed on companies or its findings released without their consent.

This operating model is standard in ethical certification, said Paul Monaghan, director of Up the Ethics. “A business says, ‘I’m thinking of certifying my supply chain, can I have a proxy audit?’ You then get an initial report back and the conversation begins,” he said. Sometimes this leads directly to certification, he added, and sometimes improvements and tweaks need to be made before certification is granted.

“If companies are concerned they are going to be highlighted unfairly, then part of the response to that has to be better reporting,” said Jenny Ricks, head of campaigns, Action Aid. “The onus is on them.”

But if signing up to the Fair Tax Mark is voluntary, why would businesses choose to do so? Parallels were drawn with the Fair Trade movement and other consumer-awareness campaigns. “These things started off very small and now they dominate global markets – they have become really influential,” said Rob Harrison, another Fair Tax Mark director.

When the Co-op began championing Fair Trade products, said Ben Reid, chief executive of Midcounties Co-operative, rival supermarkets soon followed suit “as it was seen as a unique selling point for Co-op and was taking market share”. Reid added that Fair Tax was now attracting the same type of passion. He said the Co-op’s energy business picked up hundreds of new customers last year after a large energy supplier was accused of avoiding paying corporation tax for a number of years and it became the subject of a boycott campaign. If the Fair Tax Mark becomes relevant to like-minded consumers, businesses will adopt it and “that is why this is important”, he added.

Companies are “responding to public demand for change on this issue”, said Ricks. “This will be another tool to democratise the debate around tax.”

Public anger

Alasdair Roxburgh, campaigns manager, Christian Aid, took up this point. There is public anger over tax, he said, “but at the moment it is not particularly directed or fully formed”. Roxburgh thought the Fair Tax Mark offered an opportunity to help people understand tax as an issue: “We need to get better at communicating why tax is important,” he said.

This could also be mutually beneficial for businesses, said Richard Wilcox, managing director of Unity Trust Bank. He used the Living Wage as an example, pointing out that businesses who signed up to that initiative began collaborating to ensure mutual success. Businesses that sign up to the Fair Tax Mark were likely to do the same: “It has the ability to snowball,” he said. “There is a clear business benefit there.”

Murphy agreed: “When all businesses understand each other and there is mutual trust, we will create prosperity and that can be shared.”

Roundtable participants were clearly coming round to the merits of the Fair Tax Mark, but a number of contributors wanted to know more about its business model. Would it become another organisation that both draws up industry standards and gets paid to help companies meet them, asked Olisa, such as the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which advises its clients on corporate governance. The danger in that is that shareholders have “handed over thinking” to the ISS, said Olisa, which can sometimes result in the organisation exerting an undue influence.

“It’s a paid-for standard,” admitted Harrison, but it will operate on a sliding scale “that will start on £200 for a tiny shop”. Half the fee will be charged for an assessment and then, if the assessment is passed, the company will pay the second half for a licence to display the mark which, he said, would be subject to annual assessment. Fair Tax Mark was a not-for-profit organisation, he added.

Other participants worried that the Fair Tax Mark would lose its relevance once the economy picked up. However, Oxfam’s economics justice policy adviser, Krisnah Poinasamy, said the effects of austerity “are going to last far longer than the implementation of it” and therefore the argument around “who is paying their fair share” would continue.

Olisa, who had voiced some reservations regarding the Fair Tax Mark, largely came around to the idea in the end, suggesting that if the scheme focused on “justice more than tax”, it could and should succeed. “The idea of tax justice, as a citizen, I find hugely attractive,” he said. “As a businessman, I find it hugely attractive. The only way we create wealth in society is through businesses and we have to operate in society, so it’s an easy argument.”

How does it work?

• The Fair Tax Mark aims to help organisations that apply for accreditation achieve maximum transparency and fairness in their taxation policies.

• A company’s publicly available information (website, annual accounts etc) will be examined to assess its transparency, tax rate, tax avoidance and tax disclosure.

• The criteria have been devised in consultation with NGOs, business representatives, industry practitioners and a seven-member technical team of academics and professionals. Development of the criteria is an ongoing process.

For up to date information on the Fair Tax Mark, visit fairtaxmark.net

At the table

Larry Elliott (Chair) economics editor, the Guardian

Ben Reid chief executive, Midcounties Co-operative

Paul Monaghan director, Up the Ethics

Rob Harrison director, Fair Tax Mark; editor, Ethical Consumer Magazine

Robert Hodgkinson executive director of technical strategy, Institute of Chartered Accountants

Richard Murphy director, Fair Tax Mark; founder, Tax Research LLP

Ken Olisa OBE corporate director, ThomsonReuters; chair, Restoration Partners

Krisnah Poinasamy economics justice policy adviser, Oxfam

Jenny Ricks head of campaigns, Action Aid

Alasdair Roxburgh campaigns manager, Christian Aid

Mike Truman editor, Taxation magazine

Chas Roy-Chowdhury head of taxation, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Richard Wilcox managing director, Unity Trust Bank

 

Source:

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/fair-tax-mark-to-reward-tax-justice

Forecast Suggests Increased Confidence In Spanish Property Market

February 20th, 2014

In this interesting article published by Tax News-Global Tax News and written by Ulrika Lomas, the author discusses how real seems to be the positive forecast of increasing possibilities for the Spanish property market for 2014.

A new report from the Urban Land Institute and PwC has found increasing investor confidence in the Spanish property market.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents who contributed to Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2014 said that they believed there are now good opportunities in Spain, with the EUR162m acquisition of the Parque Principado mall in Oviedo by Intu and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board indicating mainstream interest in the market.

Joe Montgomery, CEO of ULI Europe, said that mainstream institutions were following opportunistic investors who entered the market when Sareb (a company which manages assets transferred by the four nationalized Spanish financial institutions) opened for business in 2013. However, he cautioned: “with limited signs of tenant demand and rental growth, questions remain as to how far the market recovery can go.” Skeptics warn that debt remains very hard to obtain, and that Spain is still a risky market.

The report also found 51 percent of investors seeing opportunities in Ireland, with Dublin transformed from a “no-go” location to “one of the hottest markets in Europe” in just two years.

Simon Hardwick, real estate partner at PwC Legal, said that there was “a battle for assets” underway, and that with intense competition over a limited supply in core locations in Europe, investors are having “to look at other opportunities and to accept more risk.” He added that the fast improving outlook for “non-prime” locations was evidence of this, but that PwC was “skeptical” that there would be a rush into the riskiest markets: “Investors’ interest remains focused primarily on sustainable returns from quality assets in good locations.”

Further, 71 percent of respondents believe that this will mean more equity for refinancing or new investment during 2014, in particular with increasing flow from sovereign wealth funds based in Asia. Fifty-one percent expect that debt for refinancing or new investment will increase, while only 15 percent expect it to become scarcer. However, there was no expectation of a return to pre-recessional levels, and southern Europe and the Benelux countries remain especially cautious.

The top five European real estate investment markets in 2014 are predicted to be Munich, Dublin, Hamburg, Berlin, and London.

Source:

http://www.tax-news.com/news/Forecast_Suggests_Increased_Confidence_In_Spanish_Property_Market____63526.html

EU new Inheritance regulations affecting EU residents in Spain

November 7th, 2012

The Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession is applicable from 17th August 2015.

According to the new regulation, EU citizens residing in Spain will be subject to the Spanish succession law despite their nationality, unless they have a written will.

Succession laws in Spain abide by the force heirship provisions and it is fundamental for international residents in Spain to have their will in good order, in addition to the one in their countries.

Konsilia has been serving the international expatriate community in Spain since 1982 and we are very happy to draft your will or advice on any other legal or tax issues related to Spanish residence. Please contact Jose Manuel Diaz at josemanuel@konsilia.es

Foreign Notary Deed in Spain

August 3rd, 2012

A recent press release from the Consejo General del Poder Judicial (General Council for the Judiciary) reports an interesting ruling of the Spanish Supreme Court. The decision, of 19 June 2012, ratifies the one of the previous instance according the registration in a Spanish Land Registry of a deed of sale of an immovable located in Spain, notarized by a German Notary. Taking into account the rules of private international law the Supreme Court confirms the validity of the foreign deed in Spain as a basis for a Registry record.

In the instant case litigation arose from the sale of an apartment in Tenerife, which was acquired undivided by two German citizens. One of them sold his share to a third party with the consent of the other; the transfer was formalized by a German notary and the acquirer sought to have it recorded in the Land Registry of Puerto de la Cruz. The registrar refused, considering that the German document lacked full legal force in Spain; his decision was upheld by the General Directorate for Registries and Notaries, but rejected on appeal both by the Court of First Instance and the Audiencia Provincial, as well as by the Supreme Court.

According to the Supreme Court, a decision such as the one taken by the registrar and supported by the General Directorate cannot be approved under the current understanding of the freedom to provide services at the European Union level; also, to require the involvement of a Spanish Notary would mean an unjustified limitation to the freedom of transfer of goods. Article 1462 of the Spanish Civil Code, which applies in the case, equates issuing of a public deed with delivery of the sold thing; the provision does not require that the deed be granted by a Spanish Notary public, therefore a formally valid deed granted by a foreign Notary will have the same effect (in terms of equation with delivery) as one notarized in Spain. The Supreme Court believes that this interpretation matches the EU tendency to avoid duplication of formal requirements, once they have been fulfilled in a member State for a purpose identical or similar to that required in the State where the act thus documented aims to produce effects. To back this opinion the Court leans on the Commission’s Green Paper of December 14, 2010 entitled “Less bureaucracy for citizens: promoting free movement of public documents and recognition of the effects of civil status records”; on the consistency of the understanding with the Spanish regulation on foreign investments, which does not require that contracts be notarized by a Spanish Notary; and on Article 323 of the Spanish Civil Procedure Act, which accords full evidential effect to public documents formalized abroad when comparable to the Spanish “escritura pública” in as far as the role of the Notary is concerned, regardless of the formal differences.

Two members of the Court do nevertheless dissent with the idea that Article 1462 Civil Code allows for the same treatment to be granted to Spanish and foreign deeds, as, according to the provision, equation between the public deed and the delivery of the sold asset is excluded when the deed states (or it can easily be inferred) otherwise. In this regard, the differences between the German and the Spanish systems for the conveyance of ownership justifies the need for the intervention of Spanish Notaries: only they can safeguard the essential rules of the legal transfer of property that governs our country, which is that of título y modo (grounds of acquisition followed by the traditio or delivery)

Proposal for a Spanish International Cooperation (Civil Matters) Act

July 6th, 2012

As reported by Conflict of Laws, The Spanish Civil Procedure Act (Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil), adopted in 2000, required the Government to send to Parliament a bill of international legal co-operation in civil matters. Read the rest of this entry »

The Spanish Financial crisis and its source, the Spanish Saving Banks

June 12th, 2012

The Spanish savings banks (SSBs) built-up excess capacity and risk concentration influenced by many stakeholders’ interests, including politicians in their decision-making bodies. SSBs were not subject to typical market discipline mechanisms, and blurred competences between the central government and the autonomous provoked the crisis of the Spanish financial system. Read the full analysis by the IMF in the attached documents.

SpanishBanksIMF

SpanishFinancialIMF

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