VAT and regulatory round-up: 11 May 2015

What's happening in the world of VAT? Our Global Managing Editor gives her daily round-up.

Gulf states

Officials of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council agreed at the weekend to keep working towards the introduction of a value-added tax around the region, in a sign that low oil prices may be strengthening support for the idea. A meeting in Doha of the GCC's Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee adopted a draft agreement on VAT which will be endorsed by member governments. Introducing VAT would be a big economic reform for the wealthy Gulf oil exporting states, and politically sensitive because their populations have become used to lavish social welfare spending and near-zero taxation. Because there is considerable travel within the GCC, officials believe VAT would have to be imposed simultaneously in all six nations to avoid smuggling of untaxed goods across borders that could cost governments billions of dollars. Source.  

Norway

Norway’s Minister for EU Affairs, Vidar Helgesen, has told EurActiv that his country has no intention of becoming an EU member, even though being part of the EEA costs almost as much as being a full Union member. He says: “The situation in Norway is now and has been consistently that 70-80% opposes joining at this stage. I believe this has a lot to do with the situation the EU has been in since the financial crisis hit, and we don’t see any reason to start any discussion on the membership issue under this government.” Source

UK

Conservative victory in last week’s UK general election has brought the issue of Europe back on the table. Prime Minister David Cameron promised to renegotiate the country’s relationship with the EU and then call a referendum by 2017 on whether to stay or leave – a decision which would have far-reaching implications for trade, investment and Britain’s place in the world. We’ll keep an eye on developments. Source

Interest rates in the UK were today held at 0.5% for another month by the Bank of England, which also left the scale of its quantative easing stimulus programme unchanged at £385bn. Source

Kenya

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on Wednesday introduced a raft of new changes to the mobile tax payment solution, iTax system, in a bid to encourage online use for the tax filing so as to boost tax compliance and revenue collection. KRA Commissioner General John Njiraini told journalists in Nairobi that they have introduced a single number for tax payers transacting online. "The goal of the Authority is to simplify the process to ensure more Kenyans are tax compliant," said Njiraini, adding that taxpayers will now be required to use only their Personal Identification Number (PIN) when submitting returns for PAYE (pay as you earn), Excise and VAT. Source

Greece

The Greek government is urging Eurozone ministers to recognise progress made in talks, on the eve of major debt repayment to the IMF. Eurozone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday to continue negotiations on a deal to release a portion of billions of bailout funds. Ministers in Athens say they will honour the €750m (£544m, $834m) to the IMF due on Tuesday. No breakthrough is expected at Monday's talks, with many issues unresolved. Its left-wing government has said it will not break anti-austerity electoral promises, something that has put the country at odds with European creditors. Source

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