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France, Austria Successful In Combatting VAT Fraud

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

17 January 2012

The Franco-Austrian partnership agreement designed to strengthen the exchange of information to uncover value-added tax (VAT) fraud has proven to be highly effective in practice, according to the Austrian finance ministry.

Joint investigations have been carried out since 2008, and the exchange of control disclosures has proven to be an effective tool in combating tax fraud, the ministry explains in its release, noting that in 2010 there were 24 cases in which information was either spontaneously exchanged or an application for international assistance submitted, with the number rising significantly to 65 last year.

The ministry states that in 17 cases, the agencies involved exchanged information relating to the fight against fraud.

Commenting on the successes of the treaty, Ernst Radlwimmer, head of Austria's Central Liaison Office for international cooperation (ZVIZ) confirmed that bilateral cooperation has been progressing very well since the agreement between his office and the French tax investigation agency DNEF was signed in October 2008.

During a recent working visit by French tax officials to Vienna, within the framework of the European Union’s Fiscalis Programme, enabling tax administrations in the EU member states to share information and expertise, François Trechot, head of the French tax investigation agency DNEF, echoed these views, underlining the successful collaboration between the Austrian and French tax investigation teams.

Underscoring the determination of both France and Austria to combat VAT fraud, the Austrian finance ministry also alludes in its statement to the fact that both countries have particular responsibilities within Eurofisc, the body set up by European Union nations to combat value-added tax fraud, and launched in November 2010.

Here, the ministry states that Austria is responsible for coordinating the exchange of information in the area of VAT evasion on imported goods from outside of the EU, while France leads and coordinates operations relating to carousel fraud.

TAGS: compliance | tax | value added tax (VAT) | tax compliance | tax avoidance | Austria | France | European Union (EU) | Europe

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