Belgium will spontaneously publish information on the financial rulings it has been involved in since the 1st of January 2015, the Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt has decided. This was reported by the De Standaard on Wednesday. “Belgium will publish information on all its rulings, but only at the request of another European Union member State”, the minister said. “It’s time to hit the accelerator. This is why I have taken the initiative to authorise the spontaneous publication of rulings at the request of another member State”.
A ruling is an agreement made between a company and a tax administration. Mr Van Overtveldt has asked his administration to come up with a model for a law on spontaneous publication between now and the end of September.
Last March, the European Commissioner Pierre Moscivici unveiled a proposition for a directive that obliged member States to make information on all tax rulings involving big companies available to their European colleagues. These tax rulings are the information given to companies who ask the authorities how the tax on their transactions will be handled in the future.
This favourable treatment is one of the tax optimisation techniques used to reduce the amount of tax a company needs to pay. These techniques are legal, unlike tax evasion and tax fraud, but they lead to competition between states and put pressure on other less mobile tax bases.