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Tax Analysts




At the World Economic Forum more than 800 executive and technology experts were asked when they thought a particular “tipping point” would be reached – when would we see a government collect tax with blockchain? The agreed date was 2023 (on average). A full 73% of the respondents however, expected the tipping point to have been reached by 2025.

This paper argues that the EU VAT will be an early adopter, if not the earliest adopter of blockchain. There are a number of reasons why. Blockchain will bring substantial efficiencies to VAT collection. It will reduce costs, and build critical inter-governmental trust relationships. Most importantly, blockchain will immediately end revenue losses well in excess of €50 to €60 billion per year in missing trader intra-community fraud (MTIC).

Blockchain will also be essential for making the EU Commission’s April 2016 Action Plan on VAT work. Blockchain should be a critical part of the detailed legislative proposal (expected in 2017). This plan will bring in a “definitive VAT system” dealing with intra-EU cross-border trade, which will be based on taxation in the country of destination. This paper predicts that the EU will bring in the “definitive system” on the back of blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a revolutionary improvement on any centralized data system. Tax administrations are inherently based upon centralized repositories of taxpayer data. They are prime candidates for the kinds of efficiency improvements that come through blockchain. This is particularly the case for transaction taxes, and even more so for a VAT fraud prevention application, like the Digital Invoice Customs Exchange (DICE), which relies on a real-time exchange of encrypted data.


Working Paper edited and published in Tax Notes on Sept. 26, 2016

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