Richard Cornelisse

Commission modernises EU customs procedures

In Indirect Tax Strategic Plan on 29/08/2015 at 7:28 pm

The European Commission has adopted today a legal act to create a simpler, more modern and integrated EU customs system to support cross-border trade and provide for more EU-wide cooperation in customs matters.

It builds on the Union Customs Code adopted in 2013, which sets out detailed rules for twenty-first century customs processes.

Customs services play a central role in policing the EU’s external borders and in facilitating trade.

The customs union is the operational arm of much of the EU’s commercial policy measures. In addition, a growing range of government agencies call on customs to enforce their policies at the border.

EU customs handle 16% of world trade, or over two billion tonnes of goods a year with a value of EUR 3,400 billion. Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “A modern and cost-effective customs system facilitates international trade and is conducive to growth.

It also plays a vital role in defending the safety and security of European citizens and in protecting Member States’ interests.”

The Commission has been working for several years on a major overhaul of customs rules in the EU. The basic regulations were changed in 2013. Detailed acts must subsequently be adopted so that the new rules can be applied as of 1 May 2016.

Today’s decision takes the form of a delegated act. This kind of legal act, introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2010, gives the Commission power to adopt the technical, non-essential elements of an existing legislation, in this case of the Union Customs Code.

The act adopted today covers a wide area of customs activity, including:

  • Simplifications of the customs procedure inward processing which allows the processing of non-Union goods without payment of import duty and other charges to support creation of added value in the EU;
  • Clearer rules to ensure equal treatment of economic operators in the EU;
  • Wide-ranging provisions which will allow customs decisions and authorisations to be valid across the EU in the future;
  • Establishing common data requirements as the basis for new IT systems linking Member States’ customs administrations to ensure a seamless exchange of information;
  • Improvements in risk management to reinforce the fight against trade in illicit and prohibited goods, terrorism and other criminal activities.

The delegated act will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council. In accordance with Article 290 TFEU, both can raise their objections within two months.

This period of scrutiny can be extended by a further two months.


The EU customs union has provided a stable foundation for economic integration and growth in Europe for over four decades.Customs legislation is decided at EU level while the implementation of that legislation falls primarily on the Member States. Efficient customs administrations are essential to ensure a level playing field for traders in different Member States and to police the EU’s external borders.

In 2012, the Commission outlined a course of action for a more robust and unified customs union by 2020 in its Communication on the State of the Customs Union. The Communication provided for a reform of its legal framework as well as a vast shift towards digitisation.

The Union Customs Code (UCC) which came into force in 2013 enables customs to focus more on trade facilitation as well as on security, safety and the enforcement of intellectual property rights. It also improves cooperation between customs authorities and other services.

Today’s delegated act builds on this by setting out the details of the rules which will apply as from 1 May 2016. It will be supplemented by an additional implementing act, which is being submitted to Member States at the same time and will set out procedural details. The implementing act will be voted by the Customs Code Committee composed of representatives from Member States.

The Commission consulted extensively with Member States and trade interest groups to prepare the delegated act. The act was adopted well ahead of the 1 May 2016 deadline to allow stakeholders to adapt.

For more information

Video: One minute in the life of the EU Customs Union

Source: European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – Commission modernises EU customs procedures

Fall VAT conferences in the U.S. | Value Added Tax Blog

In Indirect Tax Strategic Plan on 24/08/2015 at 4:30 pm

The Big 4 accounting firms each have their own global VAT seminars in the U.S. – I am not aware of any happening soon, and these meetings are typically closed to the public. However, there are three conferences and a webinar over the next few months that I am speaking at which may trigger your interest:

Institute of Professionals in Taxation – VAT Symposium: September 30 – October 2, Indian Wells, CA

The IPT VAT conference is the only independent VAT conference in the U.S. It serves a broad range of VAT content: from the basics to more advanced sessions, case studies and “VAT around the world”-type update seminars. I have attended (and taught at) the previous two conferences, and I was impressed by the level of the speakers. If you have no or very limited VAT knowledge, this is the conference to attend. Attendees are not shy to ask basic questions and I found that the conference rooms are better set up to invite discussion than the Big 4 conferences.

Attendance is limited to IPT members or companies that have IPT members. If you don’t meet this requirement, but would like to attend, let me know and I will see what I can do.

The conference website is here: (click here – the link is too long to fit this column)

The U.S. Department of Commerce – Commercial Service: October 8 – Knoxville, TN

The U.S. government got hold of me – in a good way! I am working with the Knoxville U.S. Export Assistance Center to talk about VAT at an October 8 event in Knoxville, TN. If you are interested in learning more about export and overseas trade, please come and join the event. Rob Leach ( is coordinating and will be able to share more details.

Vertex Exchange: October 25-28, Orlando, FL

I am a 6 year veteran speaking at these Vertex conferences. Although I am teaching only VAT, the conference content is predominantly sales tax and (unsurprisingly) tax systems implementations. Like the IPT conference, this is a great opportunity to discuss, hang out and where appropriate commiserate with like-minded tax specialists – the Vertex Exchange is particularly highly rated in the networking area.

The conference website is here:


These three are on my list of this year’s speaking engagements – October will be a busy month! I will update whenever I hear of other VAT conferences or meetings here in the States.

There is also a Bloomberg BNA webinar on “VAT for U.S. Companies” on September 24. See here for the details: This will be an hour of basic VAT training. Check in with me please before you register if you plan on attending.

Of course, outside of these opportunities I would be happy to discuss any VAT challenge with you, share slides or otherwise provide VAT support. Email me ( if you need me.

Mark Houtzager is the principal consultant at US VAT, Inc. – providing Value Added Tax support for U.S. multinationals.

via Fall VAT conferences in the U.S. | Value Added Tax Blog.

Webcasts about Indirect Tax Function Effectiveness

In Indirect Tax Strategic Plan on 16/08/2015 at 10:51 pm

Benchmark information, templates, modules and approaches are shared to support VAT process improvements and meet business objectives

The added value of benchmarking the VAT function against best practices in the market is to gain objective evidence to what has already been achieved but also what still needs to be done to get there.

Our ‘free’ community Global Indirect Tax Management (GITM) website shares benchmark information about the effective management of VAT. It shows the area where risk based controls are to be expected and in addition shares templates and methods for self assessments purposes.

‘Why’, ‘What’, and ‘How’ of Managing an Effective Indirect Tax function

The global tax environment is in a state of fast change. A shift to indirect taxes represents the global trend. Driving Indirect Tax Management therefore becomes more and more important. The key to success in the management is the ability to translate indirect tax knowledge into a workable business process.

In general the advisory sector may bring you a wealth of knowledge but in practice the translation gap to a process within the actual execution of the theory makes a business vulnerable for an endless increase in consulting cost and an ineffective approach in timely dealing with current indirect tax exposures. This may easily result in a financial disaster.

Tax authorities are continuing to pick up on the common weaknesses identified in the Indirect Tax function. The restyling of the indirect tax function in a business may have to be considered by a business in order to deal with the increasing number of indirect tax challenges or to benefit from indirect tax opportunities.

Enhance the indirect tax communication within the business functional hierarchy, increase business awareness of the current state of its indirect tax function and set the right priorities for in-house stakeholders/departments (AP, AR, Legal, Finance etc) to successfully move to a best-practice is our philosophy.

Our aim is to share our expertise with you through this website, to create and share current state benchmarking knowledge, to inspire and also challenge your department functions through offering modules that can be used to scope process gaps from an indirect tax perspective.

A mythological way to express our mission statement would be to compare the general Indirect Tax function with the fall or rise of the Phenix legend.


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