NEWS In Brussels June 28-29, 2017, the European Commission’s DG for Taxation and Customs Union (TAXUD) arranged a conference on Tax Fairness in Europe. The conference hoped to be able to discuss how fairness and taxation can go hand in hand. Åsa Gunnarsson, professor at Umeå Forum for studies on Law and Society, was invited as an expert on tax law and social justice to moderate two sessions.
Among the speakers from EU institutions and the EU Commission were Stephen Quest, Director General, TAXUD, Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner, Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Valère Moutarlie, Director for Direct taxation, Tax coordination, Economic analysis and Evaluation, TAXUD and Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.
In the first session Åsa Gunnarsson moderated: “Corporates or citizens – who should bear the burden of taxation?” Paul Tang, Member of European Parliament, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Peter Egger, Professor of Economics, ETH Zürich and Scott Hodge, President, Tax Foundation, participated. The session ended in a lively discussion with the audience on who is really carrying the burden of corporate income tax, the workers, the owners or the consumers?
In the second session “Barriers or trampolines? The influence of taxation on social mobility and entrepreneurship”, Åsa Gunnarson were joined by Judith Freedman, Professor of Taxation Law, Oxford University, Ufuk Akcigit, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Chicago and Véronique Willems, Secretary General, European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME).
“This session raised some complex issues about tax incentives for promoting entrepreneurship and if entrepreneurship is a key-factor for social mobility. On a policy level, hopes are that self-employment and starting small businesses could be a way out of poverty traps and unemployment for particularly the young generation. But the correlation is quite weak”, says Åsa Gunnarsson. She concludes that increasing simplicity and reducing distortions in the taxation of small businesses are better policy options of both efficiency and equity reasons, than are special tax regulations.
Editor: Elin Andersson