In 2012, the lowest VAT Gaps were recorded in the Netherlands (5% of expected revenues), Finland (5%) and Luxembourg (6%). The largest Gaps were in Romania (44% of expected VAT revenues), Slovakia (39%) and Lithuania (36%). Eleven Member States decreased their VAT Gap between 2011 and 2012, while 15 saw theirs increase. Greece showed the greatest improvement between 2011 (€9.1 billion) and 2012 (€6.6 billion), although it is still one of the Member States with a high VAT Gap (33%). An estimated €177 billion in VAT revenues was lost due to non-compliance or non-collection in 2012, according to the latest VAT Gap study published by the European Commission on Thursday. This equates to 16% of total expected VAT revenue of 26 Member States.
The VAT Gap study sets out detailed data on the difference between the amount of VAT due and the amount actually collected in 26 Member States in 2012. “The VAT Gap is essentially a marker of how effective – or not – VAT enforcement and compliance measures are across the EU. Today’s figures show there is a lot more work to be done. Member States cannot afford revenue losses of this scale. They must up their game and take decisive steps to recapture this public money. The Commission, for its part, remains focussed on a fundamental reform of the VAT system, to make it more robust, more effective and less prone to fraud,” Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, said as quoted in the EC release.
The VAT Gap is the difference between the expected VAT revenue and VAT actually collected by national authorities. While non-compliance is certainly an important contributor to this revenue shortfall, the VAT Gap is not only due to fraud. Unpaid VAT also results from bankruptcies and insolvencies, statistical errors, delayed payments and legal avoidance, amongst other things.