The tools of international cooperation in tax matters
The Corps is the competent authority for the exchange of information in tax matters, the legal bases for which are mainly the following treaties and/or agreements:
- bilateral and/or multilateral conventions stipulated with other countries in order to avoid double taxation on income and/or assets of their respective residents;
- the OECD - Council of Europe multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters;
- T.I.E.A. (Tax Information Exchange Agreement), a simpler model of agreement that regulates the exchange of information between different Countries for the purpose of correct tax assessment, excluding aspects related to double taxation occurrences.
On the other hand, at EU level, the main instruments of cooperation are represented by Directive 2011/16/EU in the field of direct taxes and, in the domain of VAT, by Regulation (EU) 904/2010. In these sectors, communication flows have been simplified through the introduction of the e-F.C.A. platform, which is based on the drafting of standardised electronic forms.
In this framework, it has to be pointed out that from November 2019, an agreement is in force, which attributes to the Corps the power of accessing - for control purposes or for the analysis of the risk of evasion - the data concerning the income components and the financial assets held abroad by national taxpayers. This information is periodically transmitted by the foreign tax Administrations to the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue Agency), in the domain of the various existing instruments of cooperation on the subject of automatic exchange.
This agreement allows, therefore, the Guardia di Finanza local units to benefit from such data and, consequently, to enrich the databases at their disposal with the purpose of guiding the activities of counteracting tax fraud as well as the phenomena of international tax evasion and avoidance.
Regardless of the legal basis used, the Guardia di Finanza also participates in multilateral controls and joint audits, instruments of "strengthened" cooperation which are particularly useful for carrying out - in a simultaneous and/or coordinated manner - in-depth investigations into taxpayers of common interest from two or more tax jurisdictions.
Collaboration with foreign counterpart bodies is also ensured by the contribution provided by the personnel of the Corps to each initiative launched to fight transnational tax offences, as well as through participation in the working groups set up within the main international bodies, including the OECD:
- the Peer Review Group of the Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, providing support to the Department of Finance in the peer review processes promoted by the aforementioned body in order to assess the degree of compliance of jurisdictions with international standards on exchange of information and tax transparency;
- the Task Force on Tax Crime and Other Crimes (TFTC), which drafts guidelines and shares best practices with the aim of defining common methodologies to combat tax and financial crimes.
In the VAT sector, the Corps provides a contribution by participating, as a member, in the various working fields of the Eurofisc network, which aims at guaranteeing a rapid exchange of information between officials belonging to the tax Administrations of the various EU Member States.
In this context, there are numerous feedbacks to requests for qualification received from foreign counterpart bodies - also through the opportunities offered by the introduction of innovative tools for the automated collection of data and strengthening of risk analysis such as the TNA (Transaction Network Analysis) - as well as reports to the local Units of companies suspected of being involved in 'carousel frauds'.
With regard to police cooperation in the aforementioned sector, the opportunities developed through the "EMPACT" circuit of the Europol Agency should be pointed out, in relation to which the Corps is the national reference point for the priority "Missing Trader Intra Community - MTIC Fraud”.
The particular powers entrusted to the Guardia di Finanza, both in the field of economic-financial police and judicial police, make the Corps a privileged interlocutor of the Judicial Authorities - also at international level - in matter of fighting tax crimes.
In this regard, it is important to highlight the cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) with regard to VAT frauds carried out through the use or submission of false, inaccurate or incomplete declarations or documents, the failure to provide due information and the diversion of benefits lawfully obtained, which are connected to the territory of two or more Member States and involve a total damage of at least 10 million euros.