LUXEMBOURG – Poland may seem like the odd man out on global tax reform, but it has no hidden agenda to oppose EU efforts to introduce a minimum global corporate levy of 15%, a senior official told POLITICO.
Magdalena Rzeczkowska, Poland’s secretary of state and head of its national revenue administration, made the comments on Tuesday less than 30 minutes after vetoing an EU bill to implement the initiative, on which the G20 countries agreed last fall as part of a broader attempt to wipe out tax havens. and ensuring that the tech giants pay their dues.
“No, it’s just about taxes,” Rzeczkowska said when asked if Warsaw was holding the initiative hostage due to rule of law disputes with the European Commission, which sued Warsaw. in court for his controversial disciplinary proceedings for the judges.
The EU’s highest court has sided with the Commission and is fining Poland €1 million a day until it changes its ways. The EU’s executive arm is also withholding 36 billion euros in installments from the bloc’s post-pandemic recovery fund until Poland comes into line.
“That’s a completely separate issue,” she said.
Poland is now the only EU country standing in the way of the deal after holdout precedents – namely Estonia, Hungary, Malta and Sweden – withdrew their vetoes ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of EU ministers. finances this month, following minor amendments to the bill. Tax initiatives in the EU need unanimous support to become law.
Warsaw says it is not opposed to the minimum tax per se. But that frames the problem as one of nexus: The initiative is part of a two-pronged global scheme that includes a levy on the world’s 100 largest companies (called Pillar 1) who would then share the profits across the world. . Without legal guarantees from countries that have joined Pillar 1 alongside the minimum corporate tax rate (Pillar 2), Poland says it will refuse to budge.
“We were convinced that the digital giants should be taxed, and separating the two will not provide assurance that the whole package will happen,” Rzeczkowska said. Otherwise, “there are risks for equal opportunities, and there is a risk that investors, companies, go from the poorest countries to the richest [ones.]”
Many treasury officials within the EU do not buy Rzeczkowska’s reasoning and are convinced that Warsaw will only join us once its dispute over recovery fund disbursements is resolved.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who chairs legislative negotiations on economic issues as part of the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, is among the sceptics. But he declined to elaborate on what he thinks is Warsaw’s agenda.
“There are mysteries that need to be cleared up by Warsaw,” Le Maire told reporters after the ministerial meeting. He had hoped for a quick deal on Pillar 2 and made no effort to hide his frustration when Rzeczkowska stood firm in lone opposition, despite calls from other ministers for European unity.
“We have responded to the concern raised by Poland about the link between Pillar 1 and Pillar 2,” the Frenchman continued, referring to a statement lawmakers attached to the bill that underlined the seriousness of the EU in the introduction of the two pillars.
But this statement is not a guarantee, in the eyes of Rzeczkowska.
“For us it is important that the date of entry into force of the two solutions is close to each other,” said Rzeczkowska, stressing that Europe cannot be the only jurisdiction to enforce the rules. . Other countries around the world must follow suit, she argued, adding: “If Europe remains first, it will be unequal.”
Paola Tamma and Giorgio Leali contributed reporting from Luxembourg and Paris.
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