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29. 01. 2018, 12:39
UFE meets the Norwegian Tax Auditors Union
Last 31th of October, 3 members of the Board of the Union of Finance personnels in Europe met a group of colleagues from the Tax Auditors Union in Norway. This meeting took place in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, thanks to the trade union VHMF, member of UFE.
This meeting consisted in presenting to the Norwegian delegation the goals, works and achievements of UFE. In particular, the TAU wanted to know how our european association of fiscal and customs trade unionists could bring benefits to their own issues, and how a profitable exchange could be organized between UFE and the Norwegian tax and customs trade unions.
The UFE board thanks Mr. Eric RUTTEN, President of the VHMF trade union and the members of its board for the organization of this meeting, giving a new occasion to work more closely with the colleagues and fellow trade unionists, who share largely the same analysis and preoccupations today.

 Norwegian model of social partnership with the fiscal and customs administrations
As an introduction, Mr. ERIKSEN, President of the norwegian delegation, presented the « Norwegian model » of social partnership. This model is based on a close cooperation between unions, administrations and authorities. This partnership based on a deep confidence works very good : they work and talk together.
The 4 major confederation are including retired people, and represent 1,4 Million people. The Tax Auditors Union (460 members) cooperate with the fiscal agency of Norway, called Tax Norway (6400 agents). Every member of the TAU is working (or worked) for this public administration.
In Norway, the customs administration is a separate structure, but there’s an important work together between tax and customs officers. They share the same informatic systems and have a strong tradition of cooperation. Around 240 customs investigators are working inside Tax Norway and bringing their point of view and own culture of investigation. Though they don’t have judicial powers, their administrative legal powers are very deep without the authorization of a judge (for example, they can investigate and seize documents or goods in the professionnal places without informing the judicial authorities).

 Norwegian model of social partnership with the fiscal and customs administrations
Mr. RUTTEN (President of the VHMF – Academic Professionnals of Tax Administrators in the Netherlands) explained the Dutch version of social partnership. He presented the tax and customs administration in the Netherlands, acting seperately but in the same ministerial area.
He described the organization of the Dutch Tax and Customs administration. It gathers the taxes, customs, anti-fraud and benefits sectors. The benefit sector deals with the tax expenditures, which are organized and managed by the tax administration.
The Dutch economy represents 243 billion € of fiscal revenue, and 11,6 billion € of tax expenditures. The 17 million of citizen in the Netherlands produce 9 million € of income taxes. 12,4 billion of containers are entering or leaving the EU customs area in the Dutch seaports and airports. Besides, there are 26000 civil servants in the Tax and Customs administration in the Netherlands in 2017, number to compare with the 29 975 agents in 2013 (almost -15 % in 4 years).

 Reorganizing the tax industry experiences in Europe
The first major challenge for the Norwegian tax administration is to stabilize this social partnership at a local scale, in a time of major reorganizations. The question is how to preserve a high quality of service everywhere in the country, and in the sametime how work with a more concentrated administration, to have more internal dialogue and transversal process of work.
The land was divided in 9 administrative regions, and now they are still only 5 regional directions, because of a major movement of centralization. This could be the end of the regions and a more national / international vision. Some offices (considered as administrative regions) have a national competency but are specialized : the central office for foreign affairs, the central office for large companies, the oil taxation office.
Drawing on the appreciation of the TAU, the today’s general director of Tax Norway, former administrator of the OECD, is really bringing new interesting ideas in their administration. Norway is globally well adapted to the EU legislation, and ever working with this legislation on a day to day basis. On top of that, Norway is member of the Schengen area.
One of the biggest problems today in Norway is the black labor market, due to the increasing need of workforce, in a rich land, principally for the construction sector. This labor comes from the Eastern european countries. The criminal organizations are « outside » the Norwegian society, but fueling criminality with enregistered labor and with fiscal and customs frauds (for instance with VAT carrousels).
Another issue pointed by Mr. TETMO is the transparency of the Tax administration. This is seen as as a very positive thing in Norway, but sometimes that has limits in terms of professionnal secrecy.
Mr. RUTTEN opened a debate on the guidelines of fiscal administrations today. The central goal for the Dutch administration is the fiscal compliance : this is not to collect as much money as we can, but bringing as much as possible to the people and companies the free will of paying tax and duties. This slogan seems that the contributors have to pay what they have to pay and not as much as they can.
There’s also a debate on the use of the big data and risk analysis for the Chairman of VHMF, as well as the limits of the search for more fiscal compliance and an approach based on trust. A new equilibrium has to be found between trust and control.

 Conclusion / Future cooperation
Our Norwegian colleagues are willing to pursue this cooperation with the UFE. A meeting could be organized by the Tax Auditors Union in Norway next spring 2018, with all other trade unions from the tax administration, as well as the customs agency. A small delegation of UFE could present its role and achivements

They expressed a need to be more proactive with the fabric of the EU law, and to stand in a more participative position in order to protect a good working model and share with the other trade unions in Europe the same values.

Our General Secretary, Rafael ZENDER, presented the organization and history of UFE. Our european association of trade unions wants to be a credible and responsable social partner both for all king of European institutions (in the framework of the European Union and outside the UE, for instance with international organizations as well as non governmental organizations). UFE’s membership is not only concerning the trade union of the member states, but also every fiscal and customs trade unions of geographically European countries.
Through a brief presentation of the works and achievements of the tax and customs commissions of UFE, thanks to the participation of Fernand MULLER and Arnaud PICARD, our delegation promoted a large sharing of our today’s issues and our means to be part of the decisions, for instance by sharing our point of view in the public consultations of the taxation and customs union commission (TAXUD), or by being associated to special commissions organized by the EU (commission LAMASSOURE from the European Parliament, concerning fiscal evasion).
UFE tries to act as a lobbyist, in order not to leave only the professionnal federations defend their positions.
UFE offers some help to its members, as for example last year by participating to a press conference in Budapest, to denounce the unrealistic measures of the ORBAN policies to cut on the tax and customs administration budgets.
Another relevant example is the organization of a day of tax justice by the German trade unions.

M. Eric RUTTEN, from the Dutch trade union VHMF gave some examples of the need to be represented at a European scale, in order to have more weight to face together our shared global problems and issues : how to fight efficiently against tax and customs fraud ? How to increase the level of fiscal compliance ? What are the goals of the fiscal and customs administration in today’s world ? How the fight against tax evasion and the leaks of income taxes ?

For all those question, UFE can be a part of the solution, and bring its expertise and help for every members.


09. 11. 2017, 13:27