The tax advisory profession is currently regulated in a very non-homogeneous manner across the EU. Professional regulations, if they exist at all, vary greatly from one Member State to another. The spectrum ranges from a high degree of regulation in some Member States to an almost total liberalisation in other Member States.
Those with a high degree of regulation are mostly characterised by a strict professional regulation in the form of a law, establishing professional responsibilities and duties subject to sanctions in the case of misbehaviour, a supervision of the profession and a compulsory membership in a self-regulatory body which itself is under the supervision by the State.
The main objective of this study is – first and foremost – to give a broader picture of the existing landscape of tax professions in Europe in order to identify overlaps and common grounds in the professional regulation sector. The absence of harmonisation and the wide diversity of regulation make it necessary to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the existing situation first.
The results shall contribute to answering open questions raised by policy makers on national, European and international level and to finding solutions for the tax advisory sector which has come under increased attention due to several international tax revelations in recent years.
The diversity of the respective professional laws across the EU is due to different historical developments, various traditions concerning professional ethics and different legal understandings of the status and the professional image of a particular profession. Consequently, the legal professional systems are deeply rooted in the respective national systems.
The European Court of Justice referred to this absence of harmonisation in the tax advisory profession and stated that it is up to the Member States to determine the knowledge and qualifications needed in order to pursue the profession and that the Member States retain the power to define the conditions for access to the activity of professional assistance in tax matters as long as these conditions have not, up to present time, been harmonised at EU level.
In this light, a comprehensive analysis of the existing status quo in the respective States is key. The EU Liaison Office of the German Federal Chamber of Tax Advisers therefore launched the present pan-European survey on the professional regulation of tax professions in Europe in cooperation with all participating countries. Detailed information about the profession in Croatia was provided by Mr. Damir Brajković, president of the Croatian Chamber of Tax Advisors.