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Man skall inte skjuta sparvar med kanoner - En analys av den unionsrättsliga proportionalitetsbedömningen på den direkta beskattningens område

Hörtnagl, Mira LU (2016) JURM02 20161
Department of Law
Abstract
An EU accession involves far-reaching legal consequences on a national level. Nevertheless, the sovereignty of the member states has remained relatively unrestricted in the area of direct taxation. The Union has no remit of competence in the area and the Member States therefore enjoy exclusive competence when it comes to direct taxation. The Member states maintain the right to design their own tax systems, but national taxation must be exercised in accordance with each Member States’ obligation under EU law and its treaties. Above all, the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people, which form the core of the internal market of the Union, must be considered and respected. National tax legislation may therefore be subject to... (More)
An EU accession involves far-reaching legal consequences on a national level. Nevertheless, the sovereignty of the member states has remained relatively unrestricted in the area of direct taxation. The Union has no remit of competence in the area and the Member States therefore enjoy exclusive competence when it comes to direct taxation. The Member states maintain the right to design their own tax systems, but national taxation must be exercised in accordance with each Member States’ obligation under EU law and its treaties. Above all, the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people, which form the core of the internal market of the Union, must be considered and respected. National tax legislation may therefore be subject to review by the European Court of Justice (the Court) within the provisions of the free movement. The preservation of an internal market, free of obstacles against the free movement, is consequently in opposition to the Member States’ need to prevent the erosion of their tax base as a result of tax evasion. The Court faces a balancing of these interests and can justify obstructing national tax legislation if it meets certain criteria.

As the final part of the so-called rule of reason doctrine, the principle of proportionality constitutes the actual eye of the needle to determine whether a justification is possible. The essence of this essay consist of the proportionality assessment made by the Court to determine whether national tax legislation can be justified or not. The principle of proportionality is described as an exceptional tool for balancing conflicting interests within the framework of the Court, particularly when it comes to possibly obstructing national tax legislation. A number of rulings by the Court are described and analysed within the essay. In my view, the Court has developed the principle of proportionality from constituting of an assessment on the basis of material aspects to a more procedural and administratively oriented evaluation. One can also distinguish an overall requirement of good governance in order for national tax legislation to be considered proportionate and therefore justified. A similar development is widely observed in other areas of law. The Court added another dimension to the proportionality assessment through the cases SIAT and Iteclar. Nowadays, an explicit requirement of foreseeability and legal certainty is demanded in order to fulfil the requirement of proportionality. Subsequently, national tax legislation cannot constitute of too sweeping and wide-ranging prerequisites.

The essay also consists of an analysis of the Swedish tax evasion act (Swedish: skatteflyktslagen) and its compatibility with EU law. Several aspects and dimensions of the proportionality assessment have been presented and summarized above, but when it comes to the Swedish tax evasion act, the requirement of predictability and legal certainty generates the real focal point. The requisites of the Swedish tax evasion act are open and general in order to allow a flexible application. According to doctrine, uncertainty and criticism has been expressed towards what the possible outcome would be if the Swedish tax evasion act would be judicially reviewed by the Court. Legislation based on general criteria might lead to a flat and linear application and will probably not comply with the requirements of proportionality. Based on the analysis presented in the essay, and in my view, there might be a risk of rejection by the Court if the Swedish tax evasion act would be assessed. On the other hand, some indications suggest that an assessment by the Court might not lead to a rejection, despite the foregoing arguments. The Swedish tax evasion act has great similarities with the proposal on a common tax provision presented by the Commission of the EU. There are also many international equivalents to the Swedish tax evasion act, indicating some kind of general approval. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Ett medlemskap i EU innebär långtgående rättsliga konsekvenser på nationell nivå. Medlemsstaternas suveränitet är emellertid fortfarande relativt oinskränkt på den direkta beskattningens område, vilket följer av att unionen saknar befogenhet på området och medlemsstaterna således åtnjuter exklusiv kompentens. Medlemsstaterna kan fritt utforma sina skattesystem, men den nationella beskattningsrätten måste utövas i enlighet med de skyldigheter som följer av unionsrätten och dess fördrag. I synnerhet måste den fria rörligheten, som utgör kärnan för unionens inre marknad, beaktas och respekteras. Nationell skattelagstiftning kan därmed, likt övrig nationell lagstiftning, bli föremål för prövning av EU-domstolen utifrån reglerna om fri... (More)
Ett medlemskap i EU innebär långtgående rättsliga konsekvenser på nationell nivå. Medlemsstaternas suveränitet är emellertid fortfarande relativt oinskränkt på den direkta beskattningens område, vilket följer av att unionen saknar befogenhet på området och medlemsstaterna således åtnjuter exklusiv kompentens. Medlemsstaterna kan fritt utforma sina skattesystem, men den nationella beskattningsrätten måste utövas i enlighet med de skyldigheter som följer av unionsrätten och dess fördrag. I synnerhet måste den fria rörligheten, som utgör kärnan för unionens inre marknad, beaktas och respekteras. Nationell skattelagstiftning kan därmed, likt övrig nationell lagstiftning, bli föremål för prövning av EU-domstolen utifrån reglerna om fri rörlighet. Upprätthållandet av en inre marknad, fri från hinder mot den fria rörligheten, sätts därmed i motsatsförhållande till medlemsstaternas behov av att förhindra erosion av sina skattebaser till följd av skatteflykt. EU-domstolen ställs inför en balansering av dessa intressen och kan i vissa fall acceptera att hindrande nationell skattelagstiftning rättfärdigas.

I egenskap av det sista ledet i den så kallade rule of reason-doktrinen utgör proportionalitetsprincipen det verkliga nålsögat för om ett rättfärdigande är möjligt. Föreliggande uppsats syfte är att studera den unionsrättsliga proportionalitetsbedömningen och dess utveckling på skatterättens område.
Proportionalitetsprincipen beskrivs som ett exceptionellt verktyg för balansering av konträra intressen inom ramen för EU-domstolens prövning av nationell skattelagstiftnings eventuella fördragsstridighet. Uppsatsen redogör för och analyserar ett antal avgöranden från EU-domstolen som behandlar denna hindersprövning. I mina ögon uppvisar EU-domstolen en tillämpning av proportionalitetsprincipen som gått från att bedöma nationell skattelagstiftning utifrån materiella aspekter till att bli allt mer processuellt och administrativt inriktad. Det går även att utröna ett övergripande krav på god förvaltning för att nationell skattelagstiftning ska anses proportionerlig och därmed kunna rättfärdigas. En liknande utveckling går att iaktta även inom andra rättsområden. Genom målen SIAT och Itelcar kom EU-domstolen att addera ytterligare en dimension till proportionalitetsbedömningen. Till följd av nyss nämnda avgöranden måste numera även ett uttryckligt krav på förutsebarhet och rättssäkerhet beaktas för att kravet på proportionalitet ska anses uppfyllt. Det innebär att nationell skattelagstiftning inte får ha alltför öppna och generella rekvisit.

I uppsatsen studeras även den svenska skatteflyktslagens förenlighet med unionsrätten. Flera aspekter och dimensioner av proportionalitetsbedömningen har sammanfattats ovan, men för skatteflyktslagens vidkommande är det i mina ögon kravet på förutsebarhet och rättssäkerhet som är den verkliga brännpunkten. Den svenska skatteflyktslagens rekvisit är öppna och allmänt hållna för att möjliggöra en flexibel tillämpning. I doktrin har osäkerhet och kritik uttrycks kring vad utfallet skulle bli vid en unionsrättslig prövning av skatteflyktslagen. Lagstiftning som baseras på allmänna kriterier och riskerar att resultera i en schablonmässig tillämpning uppfyller troligtvis inte kraven på proportionalitet. Utifrån den analys av skatteflyktslagens rekvisit som presenteras i uppsatsen, menar jag att det kan konstateras att det finns risk för ett underkännande av EU-domstolen. Å andra sidan föreligger en del indikationer som talar för att skatteflyktslagen, trots det ovan anförda, inte hade underkänts av EU-domstolen. Skatteflyktslagen har nämligen stora likheter med det förslag på en gemensam skatteflyktsbestämmelse som kommissionen presenterat. Det finns dessutom många internationella motsvarigheter till skatteflyktslagen, vilket tyder på att dess utformning accepterats i andra rättsordningar som har sina rötter i gemensam europeisk författningstradition. (Less)
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author
Hörtnagl, Mira LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
One should not shoot sparrows with canons - An analysis of the EU proportionality assessment in the area of direct taxation
course
JURM02 20161
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
skatterätt, tax law, EU-rätt, EU law
language
Swedish
id
8874869
date added to LUP
2016-06-10 14:20:29
date last changed
2016-06-10 14:20:29
@misc{8874869,
  abstract     = {An EU accession involves far-reaching legal consequences on a national level. Nevertheless, the sovereignty of the member states has remained relatively unrestricted in the area of direct taxation. The Union has no remit of competence in the area and the Member States therefore enjoy exclusive competence when it comes to direct taxation. The Member states maintain the right to design their own tax systems, but national taxation must be exercised in accordance with each Member States’ obligation under EU law and its treaties. Above all, the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people, which form the core of the internal market of the Union, must be considered and respected. National tax legislation may therefore be subject to review by the European Court of Justice (the Court) within the provisions of the free movement. The preservation of an internal market, free of obstacles against the free movement, is consequently in opposition to the Member States’ need to prevent the erosion of their tax base as a result of tax evasion. The Court faces a balancing of these interests and can justify obstructing national tax legislation if it meets certain criteria. 

As the final part of the so-called rule of reason doctrine, the principle of proportionality constitutes the actual eye of the needle to determine whether a justification is possible. The essence of this essay consist of the proportionality assessment made by the Court to determine whether national tax legislation can be justified or not. The principle of proportionality is described as an exceptional tool for balancing conflicting interests within the framework of the Court, particularly when it comes to possibly obstructing national tax legislation. A number of rulings by the Court are described and analysed within the essay. In my view, the Court has developed the principle of proportionality from constituting of an assessment on the basis of material aspects to a more procedural and administratively oriented evaluation. One can also distinguish an overall requirement of good governance in order for national tax legislation to be considered proportionate and therefore justified. A similar development is widely observed in other areas of law. The Court added another dimension to the proportionality assessment through the cases SIAT and Iteclar. Nowadays, an explicit requirement of foreseeability and legal certainty is demanded in order to fulfil the requirement of proportionality. Subsequently, national tax legislation cannot constitute of too sweeping and wide-ranging prerequisites.

The essay also consists of an analysis of the Swedish tax evasion act (Swedish: skatteflyktslagen) and its compatibility with EU law. Several aspects and dimensions of the proportionality assessment have been presented and summarized above, but when it comes to the Swedish tax evasion act, the requirement of predictability and legal certainty generates the real focal point. The requisites of the Swedish tax evasion act are open and general in order to allow a flexible application. According to doctrine, uncertainty and criticism has been expressed towards what the possible outcome would be if the Swedish tax evasion act would be judicially reviewed by the Court. Legislation based on general criteria might lead to a flat and linear application and will probably not comply with the requirements of proportionality. Based on the analysis presented in the essay, and in my view, there might be a risk of rejection by the Court if the Swedish tax evasion act would be assessed. On the other hand, some indications suggest that an assessment by the Court might not lead to a rejection, despite the foregoing arguments. The Swedish tax evasion act has great similarities with the proposal on a common tax provision presented by the Commission of the EU. There are also many international equivalents to the Swedish tax evasion act, indicating some kind of general approval.},
  author       = {Hörtnagl, Mira},
  keyword      = {skatterätt,tax law,EU-rätt,EU law},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Man skall inte skjuta sparvar med kanoner - En analys av den unionsrättsliga proportionalitetsbedömningen på den direkta beskattningens område},
  year         = {2016},
}