The Commission has on the 11th December 2017 put forward new guidelines on withholding taxes to help Member States reduce costs and simplify procedures for cross-border investors in the EU.
The new Code of Conduct offers solutions for investors who, as a result of how withholding taxes are applied, end up paying taxes twice on the income they receive from cross-border investments. These withholding taxes provide a way for Member States to ensure that taxes are being applied appropriately on cross-border transactions. Since the income is often taxed again in the Member State where the investor is resident, problems of double taxation can result. Investors do have the right to claim a refund when double taxation occurs but refund procedures are currently difficult, expensive and time-consuming.
The recommendations put forward by the EU Commission, should improve the system for investors and Member States alike. In particular, it aims to reduce the challenges faced by smaller investors when doing business cross-border. It should result in quick, simplified and standardized procedures for refunding withholding taxes where appropriate.
Implementation of the Code of Conduct is voluntary for Member States and it outlines a range of practical ways for Member States to address key issues including:
- (a) Measures to help smaller investors for whom the rules on the refund of withholding tax are overly complex;
- (b) The creation of user-friendly digital forms to apply for withholding tax relief in the case of overpayment;
- (c) A reliable and effective timeframe for tax authorities for the granting of withholding tax relief;
- (d) A single point of contact in Member State tax administrations to deal with questions from investors on withholding tax.