A new relationship between tax authority and taxpayer? Towards (a higher degree of) co-operative compliance in Belgium
PhD student: Dr K. Wauters
Promotor: Mrs Prof E. Van der Velde
Duration: 16/9/2015 - 15/9/2021
PhD defence: Hasselt, 9/11/2021
Nowadays, taks compliance by large businesses is the subject of intense scrutiny. Both the OECD/G20 and the EU have launched ambitious programs in an attempt to address the widespread perception that corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes. Moreover, repressing national legislation regarding taks avoidance is arising swiftly worldwide. Nonetheless, several countries have opted for a different, additional approach and try to build a new relationship between taxpayer and taks authorities based on mutual trust and co-operation: the so-called enhanced relationship or, nowadays, co-operative compliance. The objective of the dissertation is to analyze the possibilities of a higher degree of co-operative compliance in Belgium. Various other countries (the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden,) have already adopted a form of cooperative compliance in their legal system. Although there was an impetus to establish an enhanced relationship between taks authorities and taxpayer in Belgium, apparent measures are still lacking. The overarching aim is to assess the current state of the relationship between taxpayer and taks authorities in Belgium and to examine which adjustments can be made, based on the experiences in other countries. As a result, the central research question can be formulated as follows: how and to what extent can a higher degree of co-operative compliance be introduced in Belgium? This main research question is very wide-ranging, hence sub-questions are necessary. Firstly, the current process of compliance in Belgium will be analyzed. To what extent is co-operative compliance already in effect in Belgium? To answer this question, it is necessary to assess the current interaction between taxpayer and taks authorities. Secondly, the development of co-operative compliance in other countries will be analyzed. Based on extensive legal comparison, the assessment will be made how these measures can improve taks compliance without neglecting possible pitfalls. Thirdly, the research will try to unravel which legal and pragmatic boundaries are to be dealt with in regard of international, European and national legal frameworks. These findings will result in a framework which will be used in order to propose possible measures to increase co-operative compliance in Belgium. With the Belgian system of taks rulings under heavy pressure, the problem is addressed from an out-of-the-box approach. Although co-operative compliance is a trending topic from an international taks law point of view, research on this subject has been very limited in Belgium.