This is a point common to all the candidates in the last presidential and legislative elections: strengthening the fight against tax evasion and fraud is seen as a painless way to bring money into the state coffers. A particularly sought-after objective at a time when inflation is driving up spending, but whose true potential is difficult to assess.
Each side has its own recipes. On the right, the new president of the Les Républicains group in the Assembly, Olivier Marleix (LR) said he was preparing measures “against transfer pricing abuses, which allow companies like McKinsey not to pay tax in France. “. Transfer pricing refers to transactions made between subsidiaries of multinationals.
Creation of 3,900 jobs
On the left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon had promised to introduce a universal tax on companies and to bring back no less than 52 billion euros in new revenue, by creating 3,900 tax inspector posts.
Unsurprisingly, this program of the Insoumis differs significantly from the strategy led by the government since the first five-year term of Emmanuel Macron. If the executive also displays its ambition to increase the fight against tax evasion, it pursues at the same time the objective of reducing the number of agents in the General Directorate of Public Finance.
Bercy is putting resources into “datamining” and new technological tools, whether it be monitoring on social networks or the use of satellite images in partnership with Google, to obtain information and cross-check data on taxpayers and businesses.
The tax administration has also invested in a computerized and automated personal data processing tool called “Galaxy”, which was made available to agents a few months ago for control, investigation and and collection, particularly in “high stakes” cases.
The control of multinationals and “transfer prices” is logically the priority of the tax authorities as these files can bring in revenue, as shown by the recent fine of 1.25 billion paid by McDonald’s France. But they are also very time consuming. It took about ten years to conclude an agreement with the American fast food company.
The administration therefore tries to encourage cooperation, through prior agreements: companies send their internal transaction plan to the tax authorities for an opinion. But this analysis still takes about two years! According to the Directorate General of Public Finances, around ten groups apply for prior agreements each year.
Global minimum tax
The most promising lever in the eyes of Bercy remains that of a change of rules at the international level. The administration expects a lot from the reforms carried out under the aegis of the OECD: that of the minimum effective tax rate of 15% country by country, which heralds the death of tax havens. And that of reallocation of the profits of the largest companies, which provides that the market countries (where the activity actually takes place) receive a greater share of taxes to the detriment of the countries where the headquarters are.
The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, estimated that the second would bring in at least as much as the French Gafa tax, i.e. around 500 million euros each year, while the global minimum taxation would bring “several billions” to France. .
The Economic Analysis Council (CAE) is counting on almost 1 billion and 6 billion in gains, respectively, for these two pillars. Problem: Delays are piling up. The implementation for companies and the administration has been postponed, given the complexity of the adjustments to be made. And the Europeans have not yet managed to agree on the transposition.
International cooperation, however, already generates additional revenue, thanks to the automatic exchange of information. The number of foreign accounts of French taxpayers declared by partner countries had jumped by 22% in 2020, to almost 5 million. That is five times more than during the first automatic transmission exercise.
Finally, another aspect of the fight against tax evasion is being deployed: that on VAT with the generalization of electronic invoicing. This should make it possible “to improve the collection of value added tax (VAT) as well as its control”. From July 2024, all companies will have to accept invoices in electronic format, but the obligation to issue invoices in this format will be extended until January 2026. This system will generalize the pre-filling of the VAT declaration and mechanically reduce fraud, which costs the state billions.