Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

February 5th, 2003

EU Tax harmonisation explained

Every few months the issue of harmonising taxation across the EU crops up, and when ever it does it usually gets denounced pretty quickly from most sides. It’s one of those subjects that no-one seems to be in favour of, and yet it still keeps coming back.

I’ve finally found someone putting forward a good reason as to why tax harmonisation may be a good thing, and it has nothing to do with the usual reason given, that of unfair tax competition. Written by the Edward Troup, the head of tax strategy at Simmons & Simmons, this article in the FT explains the problems with the current situation.

Although there is freedom of movement across the EU most people end up a resident of one country, and if they move to another country they become residents there, and so pay income tax there. Most people don’t change residency from one country to another very often, and there are rules in place in each country that determine when you class as a resident for tax purposes. If you are a company however it’s very common to have different parts of you in different EU countries on a permanent basis. It’s also not clear, especially if your customers are also in multiple EU states, where you earn the profit that countries wish to tax. The EU has a common market, so in theory it shouldn’t matter where you are in the EU, you can conduct business everywhere. The European Court has the task of ensuring that this fundamental right of access to the free market is upheld, and so (borrowing from the article) when Germany says that you can not pay interest owed on loans in an another country out of earnings from Germany, it acts and limits this ruling to only countries outside the EU.

I’m a strong supporter of the common market. It is an important part of securing the peaceful future of Europe. It gives us more choices, in things to purchase, places to work and live, and brings a greater variety to life. So when the issue of tax harmonisation comes up again I’m going try and find out exactly what kind of tax harmonisation is being proposed, because it might turn out that I don’t appose it after all.

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February 5th, 2003

More SimpleTAL news

It’s been at the back of my mind to change how local variables are implemented in SimpleTAL/ES for a while now. The implementation used in 2.0 goes back to my first ever version of SimpleTAL, and was a bit of a hack. I’ve changed it to work the way it should have done from the beginning, and I’m now seeing a 5% improvement on the basic performance test and 10% on the deeply nested test.

I’ll included this in the next release, whenever that turns out to be.

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