Austria: the fight against tax fraud and other illegal activities

A proposal for a European directive dating July 2012 is aimed at harmonizing on a European level the fight against tax fraud and other illegal activities against the European Union’s financial interest. The term illegal activities is understood to mean particularly the underpayment of import taxes and the valued added tax.

The proposal of a Directive provides for the obligation of member countries to punish as criminal offence already the incitement, aiding and abetting and the attempt to commit an illegal activity. Furthermore the proposal provides for the liability of legal persons while natural persons are punished by the application of fines or imprisonment.Contrary to the previous practice, in the event of tax offences the Directive envisages expressly the application of the European arrest warrant. Consequently the underpayment of duties or VAT in another member state of the European Union may be punished as fraud through the European arrest warrant. This is a significant change compared to the previous practice when tax offences were not prosecuted on a European level.

Alessandro Pasut

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