Cooperative compliance

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As it is well known, in all countries the relationship between tax payers and tax authorities is not always based on mutual trust. In view of enhanced transparency in exchange for certainty, in compliance with the studies coming from the OECD, the Italian Government implemented the “Cooperative Compliance” project, a voluntary agreement between the Italian Revenue Agency and companies. The project, conceived in 2015, became fully operational in January 2017, with the first agreement between the Italian Revenue Agency and Ferrero, one of the major Italian food industries. This first implementation involves the big companies, resident and non-resident in Italy, having a turnover of at least 10 billion Euro; it is designed to offer certainty given the increased complexity of tax laws, and to support investments while reducing tax-related risks. However, even companies with turnover of at least 1 billion Euro that participate to the pilot project can take advantage of this agreement, with the ultimate goal of extending this possibility even to smaller companies. In theory, the entry into force of the “Cooperative Compliance” project will enable the Revenue Agency to provide consultancy activities to the companies that voluntarily adhere to the project; thus the Revenue Agency will no longer act only as controller, as the Italian Minister of Economy Pier Carlo Padoan mentioned. The Italian Government’s intention is that of reassuring both, Italian investors, who tend to invest abroad, and, above all, foreign investors, often mistrustful of Italian bureaucracy. Companies wishing to join this project, however, are required to offer high tax transparency standards. In fact, all interested taxpayers should have in place an effective tax risk management system suitable for managing the reported tax positions with an internal validation system (Tax Control Framework). This system, however, can be trusted only when it provides a constant control on fiscal risks. Cooperation must be based on mutual exchange of information: taxpayers provide the tax administration with proper information suitable for identification, measure, management and control of the tax risk; and tax authorities provide certainty on tax risk management. In fact, companies joining in this project have the possibility of predicting and evaluating beforehand, with the controlling body, situations, which may potentially contribute to create these risks;  thus they can manage uncertainties with a preventive control, in order to resolve possible fiscal disputes before they emerge. The initiative started from the food industry with Ferrero: once again this industry opened a new path. Now we have to wait that other companies follow this example.

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