EU to take action on tax evasion by individuals

The European Commission has launched its first ever EU-wide campaign to tackle the black economy which is distorting competition between businesses and leads to large gaps in public finances, particularly in southern Europe

The campaign comes after a recent Eurobarometer report found one in 10 Europeans report they have purchased goods or services in the past year that might have derived from undeclared work, and a third know somebody who works undeclared.

Almost all (95%) of those surveyed denied that they had undertaken undeclared paid work in the last year, while only 3% said they had.

On tax compliance, a third said they knew someone who worked without declaring income tax to the tax authorities. There is wide variance across Europe with over half in Greece (59%), Denmark and the Netherlands (55%) compared to only 13% in the UK.

Nicolas Schmit, commissioner for jobs and social rights, said: ‘By launching this campaign today, we want workers, companies, and governments to come together in recognising the benefits of declared work.

‘The EU is stepping up efforts in tackling undeclared work, encouraging cooperation between member states and raising awareness throughout Europe. Together we can make undeclared work a thing of the past.’

Beginning 16 March, there will be a week of action in EU member states with a range of activities, including inspections in sectors at risk, information sessions, and visits in secondary schools.

The Commission will also adopt a report on the activities of the European Platform tackling undeclared work, composed of the relevant authorities of all member states and representatives of cross-industry social partners on EU level.

The network aims to help EU countries learn from each other and engage in closer cross-border cooperation.

The UK, Poland, Germany and Romania are the least likely to buy black market goods with only 5% to 7% of the population doing so, compared with 30% in Malta, and 27% in the Netherlands and Greece.

According to the Eurobarometer survey, the most frequently purchased undeclared goods or services are home repairs or renovations (30%), hairdressing and beauty treatments (27%) and repair services (19%).

Self-employed and mobile workers are particularly at risk, and highlights emerging challenges related to the collaborative economy.

Half of Europeans think that the risk of being detected is low; however, the share of respondents that perceive a high risk has increased from previous surveys.

The EU will work with the European Platform tackling undeclared work, and the European Labour Authority.

#EU4FairWork campaign details

European Barometer, Undeclared work in the European Union

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