Digital Services Tax: Assessing the Policy Reasons for its Introduction in the European Union

This article assesses the related potentially positive and negative implications of the possible introduction of an EU digital levy, as discussed in the February-April 2021 public consultation promoted by the European Commission. In doing so, it engages in an analysis based on broader policy considerations, thereby including interaction with the domestic corporate income tax systems of the Member States, as well as fundamental EU law considerations. On the grounds of such a critical reconstruction and assessment of the proposals under scrutiny, the article also sets forth considerations on possible alternatives and an overall outlook on the future of the taxation of the digitalized economy in the European Union. In particular, with regard to the adoption of an EU digital levy, the article elaborates on the shortcomings of turnover taxation when applied in isolation and the possible approaches to addressing overtaxation in cross-border situations in light of fostering the integration of said levies with income taxes. In doing so, this article is concerned, on one hand, with enhancing the proportionality of the proposed measures, and, on the other hand, with reinstating the need to ensure that the European Union does not lose sight of its originally stated long-term goals in connection with the reform of the taxation of the digitalized economy, not excluding the need to reshape the current nexus rules surrounding the taxation of cross-border business income. In this respect, the authors believe that the European Union could be the right laboratory in which to explore new avenues for steering international tax law development towards internation equity, fairness, simplicity and long-lasting solutions.