Harmonising tax crime definitions in the EU to improve criminal countermeasures

Tax crimes substantially impact the budgets of EU Member States and create damage to society. Efficient criminal countermeasures can prevent and mitigate the impact of tax crimes, but the efforts of law enforcement agencies and tax authorities are hindered by various challenges, for instance the lack of efficient information sharing structures or a harmonised definition of tax crime across Europe.

A PROTAX workshop earlier this year discussed practical problems of law in action and highlighted the lack of a uniform legal definition in the EU as one of the key challenges in combating tax crime. Inconsistencies and differences in the legal frameworks can make cooperation between different jurisdictions more difficult and less efficient when prosecuting tax crimes across borders.

In his new article, PROTAX Project coordinator Prof Dr Umut Turksen from the Research Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity at Coventry University, explores further the implications of uncertainties embedded in the definition of tax crimes in the various legal frameworks of EU Member States. The paper on “The importance of a common definition of tax crime and its impact on criminal countermeasures in the EU: An explorative study” is based on PROTAX case studies and research results and was published open access in the European Law Enforcement Research Bulletin, a peer-reviewed periodical of CEPOL – the European Union Law Enforcement Agency for Training.

The article provides unique insights into PROTAX research results and makes novel conclusions that can be of interest in particular to law enforcement researchers and practitioners. It gives an in-depth comparative analysis of the relationship between tax crimes and criminal countermeasures in various Member States while investigating the need for a common definition of tax crimes in the EU. Prof Turksen also highlights the main gaps in the criminalisation of tax evasion behaviour and the need for the development of new methods to effectively counter tax crimes in the EU.

PROTAX aims at creating novel innovative methods to harmonise the prosecution of tax crimes and enhance information sharing across the EU. These tools have been co-created in collaboration with experts such as policymakers, law enforcement agencies and tax administrations and will be finetuned during further co-design workshops. The PROTAX toolkits include policy recommendations to counter tax crimes at national and EU level, a tax fraud investigation framework (TFIF), and a tax crime risk assessment methodology (PRORAM) to identify vulnerabilities in the fight against tax crime.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about our co-design workshops or the PROTAX toolkits.

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