Zero / ten – the European documents

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There is much dispute about zero / ten and whether it id dead or not.

I now have the EU documentation on the decisions reached and it seems that there is good public interest reason for putting these into the public domain, although the Commission does not do so. The relevant pieces are as follows:

11. Member States have made commitments not to introduce new tax measures that would be harmful within the meaning of the Code. The Group's work programme for the Belgian Presidency identified the following measures where further discussion under standstill was required:

¬? UK: Jersey – Zero-Ten Corporate Tax Regime;

¬? UK: Isle of Man - New Tax Legislation;

¬? Hungary: Tax Base for Interest Payments Received from Abroad.

Furthermore, the programme indicated that other developments in the area of standstill might need to be addressed (Paragraphs 23 - 25 of doc. 10033/10 FISC 47).

12. As regards UK: Jersey – Zero-Ten Corporate Tax Regime and UK: Isle of Man - New Tax Legislation, in its meeting on 23 September the Group was presented with the agreed descriptions of these measures. After discussion on the descriptions and an exchange of views with those concerned, the Group invited the Commission to prepare draft evaluations. The Group discussed these draft evaluations in its meeting on 19 November. The Group agreed that the measures give rise to harmful effects. The Group recommends that the Council reviews this on the basis of the conclusions of the Council High Level Working Party's work as outlined in Paragraph 24.

Paragraph 24 says:

FUTURE WORK

24. The Group recommended the Council to task the Council High Level Working Party for tax issues to examine the scope of the Code.

There is no link: you’ll just have to take my word that I’m pretty sure this is accurate information.

To note:

1. The obligation to impose change is on the UK. The Crown Dependencies do not have discretion to act on this issue.

2. Note “The Group agreed that the measures give rise to harmful effects.” So zero / ten has failed. That is final.

3. The ambiguity arises re the reference to para 24. This can only have relevance in the context of whether a measure relating to income tax is a business tax measure. On this I understand that whereas no one spoke against the 'consensus' that zero/ten is harmful the Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia all asked for the the high level working group (separate from the Code Group) to look at whether personal tax measures can be looked at routinely when business measures are under review.  The result is para 24.

So Jersey is saying that because a minority asked for a further discussion on this issue zero / ten was reprieved. That is not true. There’s merely a new working group, the outcome of which is far from certain. And it is subject to consensus, not unanimous, decision making. There is no way of saying that this has reprieved zero / ten. It may mean it could be reintroduced at some time in the future. But for now there was consensus in the Code Groups – zero / ten has to go.

In the meantime the UK is going to do what it’s been instructed to do – which is get rid of these harmful measures.

That means, as I’ve been saying for a long time. zero / ten is dead.