Together with the Tour de France, I arrived in Luxembourg on the 6th of July. It happened to be the third stage for both La Grande Boucle as well as my Tax Tour. The second stage took place last week with a visit to Brussels and the Belgian Parliament.
In the Belgian Federal Parliament, we had a meeting with members of parliament and a variety of stakeholders. The discussion with members showed all sort of concerns, ranging from sovereignty — what can Belgium still do to foster its own investment climate? — to revenue. But it was also constructive. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see how all participating parties were constructively thinking on how the implementation of the 3CTB (Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base) could and should be done.
However, the invitation was not just sent to members of the Federal Parliament, but also to other stakeholders, such as: trade unions, academics, and employers’ organizations. They helped shed light on the Belgian position. Somewhat surprisingly, some key players appeared to downplay the results showing that SMEs pay up to 30% more taxes than large enterprises. 3CTB will create a more level playing field.
Half a week later, and on my way to Strasbourg for the plenary session, we planned a stop-over in lovely Luxembourg City. My team set up a series of meetings with the Finance Minister Gramenga, various MPs, tax advisors, and national media.
We were told that Luxembourg will not be at the vanguard of European tax reform, which came as no surprise. More interesting, however, were the discussions on the competitiveness of the European economy as a whole and the tax deduction for R&D and own capital (to fight the debt equity bias).
After having discussed the level playing field for SMEs and large corporations in Belgium, we now had a discussion on the level playing field between multinationals from outside the EU and our own enterprises.
I took home the lessons from Belgium and Luxembourg; they will help us to move forward with the proposal and helped me drafting the report that I presented this week.
But, the work is not over yet. The Tang Tax Tour will continue after the summer and will visit (at least) four other Members States: The Netherlands, Germany, France and Bulgaria.