BRUSSELS. Electronic payment, full speed ahead. Paolo Gentiloni defends the use of paper and technological devices for everyday transactions, and announces an EU legislative proposal on the matter for “next month”. The Commissioner for the Economy, also responsible for the tax authorities, has no doubts that the way forward is that of the Pos, the device that replaces cash and which can allow the fight against tax evasion and replenish state coffers.
Gentiloni speaks at the symposium on EU taxation, and here he offers numbers to support his thesis. Taking a look at the value added tax (VAT), in 2020 alone “the Member States lost 93 billion euros in revenue”. Something about having to step in, and fast. “These are losses we cannot afford, at a time when investment needs continue to grow and public finances are constrained by high levels of debt.” The reference is to the efforts to put into practice the sustainable and digital transformations of the economy that the Europe of the States have decided to pursue and on which it has made clear commitments. But also to an economic situation deteriorated by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the inflationary spiral which requires a more prudent use of resources.
There is another aspect that the Italian component of the college of commissioners is keen to recall, and that is that the space for taxation is limited. “Europe is already the region with the highest taxation in the world,” Gentiloni stresses. Currently, the ratio between taxes and gross domestic product in the EU is around 40%, compared to an average of 33% in the OECD (the area that includes EU countries, North America, Oceania, Turkey and Japan). It means that “the possibilities for further increasing tax revenues in the future may be limited”. What can be done is to recover the unpaid, and in this sense “a better use of technologies is very promising”. How promising? Gentiloni provides the answer. According to the European Commission, the introduction of electronic reporting systems such as the POS “will allow Member States to recover an additional 11 billion euros each year over the next ten years of currently uncollected VAT revenues”. An opportunity to be seized, and precisely for this reason “next month we will present a proposal in this regard”.
Gentiloni does not call into question any Member State, makes no mention of any kind and consequently does not even speak of Italy. But his intervention clashes with the decisions of the Meloni government. Among the various measures contained in the budget law, there is the possibility of refusing electronic payments below 60 euros. A choice that does not follow the path traced by Brussels and the commissioner for the economy and taxation. The EU executive will have to decide on this as well as all the other measures contained in the maneuver, now that Palazzo Chigi has sent the document to the von der Leyen team. On electronic payments, Rome and Brussels don’t seem to have exactly the same idea, but the debate will be relaunched even more when the Commission puts its proposal on the table.