A comprehensive comparative analysis of the prosecution of tax crimes in the EU

A comprehensive comparative analysis of the prosecution of tax crimes in the EU


Prosecuting tax crimes is not a value in itself but is one of the pillars ensuring revenues to the treasury, being essential for the functioning of a society, trust in the state and fostering fairness in the tax system.

In the first part, this study develops a set of benchmarks for the adequacy of specific enforcement practices. The benchmarks are developed in close consultation with tax revenue collection authorities and law enforcement agencies addressing problems of consistency in revenue practices within and between countries. The second part, taking into consideration evidence, data and stakeholders’ experience collected up to this point, includes a gap analysis about the enforcement of tax crimes.

This analysis offers an evidence-based comparative assessment of enforcement practices in the various EU Member States, addresses problems of differential reporting of tax crimes and shows the differences between tax crimes laws in the book and in practice. The gap analysis highlights the need for harmonisation (“Europeanisation”) of approaches to tax crimes and demonstrates the need for mechanisms to enhance prosecution and enforcement of cases of cross-border tax crimes.

Key Findings

  • The gap analysis has revealed the existence of non-harmonised systems across Europe to combat tax crimes, which severely constrains international cooperation and impacts the fight against the most serious forms of tax crime on a transnational scale and constitutes a significant vulnerability in the EU.
  • There are overall many different factors impacting the efficiency and harmonisation of legal systems in the context of tackling tax crimes, which require to:
    • Strengthening prevention
    • Ensuring the responsibility of institutions and people
    • Empowering public and private organisations
    • Increasing transparency and accountability
    • promoting policies and enforcement activities
    • valorising the role of human factors
  • Lawmakers often reform the black letter of the law but do not bother to make the system for preventing and combating tax crimes effectively, which creates gaps between the law in the book and in action at the EU and national level.
  • Reporting of tax crimes depends on a plurality of legal (reporting tax crimes depends on the incentives that are given to those who report the crime) and cultural motivations (citizens generally perceive tax offences to be less relevant and as a victimless crime).

Please note that the law cited were valid and correct at the time of the reports publication.