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Introduction

Working in European institutions entails not only professional responsibilities but also important considerations for officials and agents, such as double taxation and the determination of fiscal domicile. In this article, we examine the essential elements to take into account before starting to work in EU institutions in any European country.

Elements to consider before working in the EU

Fiscal situation of European Staff members

The fiscal situation of officials and other agents of the European Union cannot be considered without taking into account the provisions of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, abbreviated as “PPI”, mainly articles 12 and 13. The provision of article 12 aims to avoid double taxation between the country of residence and the fiscal domicile of the official. However, it is important to note that the following are not covered by the application of this article, among others:

  • Taxes levied by Member States representing consideration for a service (regional tax, water tax, etc.)
  • Motor vehicle circulation tax
  • Property tax
  • Inheritance taxes

 

Determination of Fiscal Domicile

Article 13 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Union (PPI) establishes that officials and other agents who establish their residence in the territory of a Member State different from the State of the fiscal domicile they had at the time of joining the service of the Union are considered to have retained their domicile in the latter State if it is a member of the Union.

It is important to remember that article 13 of the PPI is only applicable to officials and other agents in service (not retirees). In this sense, three categories must be highlighted: fiscal domicile, place of recruitment, and place of origin. Although in most cases the “fiscal domicile” will coincide with the “place of recruitment,” it does not necessarily coincide with the latter. The determination of the place of recruitment, the place of origin, and consequently the fiscal domicile, may raise differences.

The place of recruitment is where the official had their habitual residence at the time of recruitment, that is, the place where the person established, with the intention of conferring it a stable character, the permanent or habitual center of their interests. For the determination of the fiscal domicile, two additional simultaneous conditions apply:

Being a resident of a Member State at the time of joining the service of the EU

Establishing residence in another Member State solely for the purpose of exercising functions in the service of the Union

Successions and inheritances

In relation to Article 13 of the PPI, movable assets belonging to officials and other agents, located within the territory of the State of residence, are exempt from inheritance tax in that State. They are considered as if they were in the State of fiscal domicile. However, regarding immovable assets that are part of an inheritance, the applicable legislation is that of the location where they are situated. Thus, for example, Belgian law will apply to immovable assets located in Belgium and of which the deceased is the owner, regardless of their nationality or residence.

Can officials choose their fiscal domicile?

In the current state of the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice, the answer is negative. The Court of Justice has stated that Article 13 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Communities does not grant the official an option regarding the determination of their fiscal domicile.

Examples of the above

  • A Belgian official was raised in Germany, where he studied, lived, and worked. He is recruited in Germany. His fiscal domicile will be considered to be in Germany.
  • A lady who practiced a professional activity in Spain for several years, and fulfilled her tax obligations in Spain before joining European institutions. Her habitual residence and center of interests were established in Spain at the time of her recruitment by the European institutions. In this case, the place of recruitment, the place of origin, and the fiscal domicile coincide: Spain.

Conclusions

All the elements analyzed are essential for European officials and agents to avoid tax complications, improve their financial decisions, and ensure proper management of their assets while performing their duties across Europe in European Institutions.

Author
Navas & Cusí Abogados
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