23 Apr Guidance report for practitioners and policy makers
Effective investigation and prosecution of tax crimes rely on wide and comprehensive exchanges of information between all actors involved within a country’s law enforcement ecosystem. Moreover, due to the increasingly transnational nature of tax crimes, the information chain must not stop at the border of a legislation or particular jurisdiction.
This report analyses the current state of frameworks for cooperation and information sharing at national, European, and international levels within the tax crime ecosystem to provide recommendations for fostering the cooperation between relevant authorities, agencies and private enabling entities and actors.
The analysis reviews legal instruments and practices for information sharing in the prosecution of tax crimes across sectors, institutions and national jurisdictions, highlighting gaps to be addressed by policy and legal reform. Data and findings from research on cooperation and information exchange in organisations are used to identify factors that affect the effectiveness of existing mechanisms for information-sharing in different forensic settings from a socio-legal perspective.
The report also provides additional guidance and evidence-based recommendations for policymakers to facilitate information sharing in the context of cross-border investigations between agencies and actors such as e.g. law enforcement agencies (LEA), Financial Intelligence Units (FIU), Public Prosecutor Office (PPO) and designated businesses involved in the fight against tax crimes. The annex entails a mapping of information exchange in taxation and criminal investigation at the level of Member States.
- For sustainable effects, legal reform initiatives addressing information exchange and cooperation across sectors and national jurisdictions have to be underpinned by organisational adaptations (building trust, provide training and human resources) and political initiatives towards a common European understanding of tax crimes as a threat that needs a coordinated, joint response and equal engagement from all European countries.
- Good practices for cooperation and exchange of information include, among others, setting up so-called joint investigation teams (JIT) and building public-private partnerships (PPP).
- Different legal frameworks and definitions of tax offences and their criminalisation are one of the most important impediments for mutual assistance and the exchange of information between jurisdictions.
- Relevant policies governing cooperation and information exchange do not (yet) add up to a common European framework or follow an overall strategic plan.
- Within the field of tax crimes, there are still a significant number of problems that need to be addressed by national and European policy initiatives, including:
- Different thresholds for prosecution
- incompatible distribution of competences in different jurisdictions
- differences in the legal definitions of tax offences.
Please note that the law cited were valid and correct at the time of the reports publication.