Sweden and Denmark Incorporate Anti-Tax-Avoidance Rules into Very Different COVID-19 Responses.
Tax Notes International, vol 98, no. 10, pp. 1127-1133 (2020)
8 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 8, 2020
After initially focusing on the medical aspects of the coronavirus, many jurisdictions have begun instituting economic measures to mitigate the economic consequences of the pandemic and prepare for the financial crisis that will unavoidably follow in its wake. Because these solutions are still in their infancy, states have generally focused on short-term solutions such as offering various financial support packages to both individuals and companies for 2020 and 2021.
This paper concerns EU state aid packages implemented in Sweden and Denmark. Despite being closely connected in both geography and law, with their legal systems sharing many important characteristics, the two member states have taken different approaches to the pandemic. Denmark was among the first states to close both its borders and its society, with the government implementing far-reaching protocols on social distancing. Meanwhile, Sweden left its borders and society open and relied on its citizens’ common sense to limit transmission of the coronavirus. This explains why Denmark had to enact various state aid measures relatively early while Sweden is still processing its economic response. Denmark has also instituted state aid measures that are more generous and far-reaching than those that have been proposed by the Swedish government (at least thus far). However, despite the differences between the two states, both have decided to implement anti-tax-evasion agendas.
The two states have reacted differently in terms of economic support measures, in part because of the conflicting approaches to social distancing. The paper focuses on these differing approaches to state aid, particularly measures that the governments provide through the tax system. The highly debated Danish decision to exclude tax-evading companies from COVID-19 aid — a move that Sweden and several other states followed — is given particular attention. The paper concludes that both states must take steps to more clearly delineate their rules excluding tax-evading companies from COVID-19 aid to ensure that these provisions remain applicable and adhere to the principle of legal certainty.
Keywords: anti-tax avoidance; state aid; COVID-19; fiscal aid
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