VAT Talks - Redmar Wolf

VAT Talks with VAT-expert Redmar Wolf In our new blogpost series “VAT Talks” we speak with VAT experts from all over the world to learn more about VAT, VAT fraud and everything related to VAT. For this episode we had the honour to speak with Redmar Wolf, who works as a VAT attorney with the law firm Baker McKenzie, as a professor of Tax Law (Indirect Taxes) at the University of Groningen and as a Deputy-Justice at the District court of Arnhem-Leeuwarden.

Myths about blockchain for VAT: energy consumption

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels. In our previous blogpost we discussed that the scalability issues sometimes attributed to blockchain do not necessarily apply to our invoice reporting system, TX++. That same blogpost brought us to the idea of busting some other myths that are too often brought up when talking about blockchain and VAT. In this first episode of Myths about blockchain for VAT we will show that a blockchain for VAT does not have to require enormous amounts of energy unlike many other blockchain-based systems.

The EU invoice volume and the scalability of our blockchain-based invoice reporting system

Many have emphasised the potential of blockchain technology in the field of taxation and VAT.[1] However, applying blockchain to taxation is often seen as something that is only possible in the long run, mainly because of scalability issues attributed to blockchain technology. In this blogpost, we clarify that the latter statement is not correct given the specific requirements in the field of taxation. We will first analyse the number of invoices sent within the European Union (EU), in order to estimate how many invoices per second an invoice reporting system should be able to process (this was not as easy as it sounds!

An open source software 101 for public officials

@Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash An open source software 101 for public officials In April 2020 the Dutch government announced its support to open source software. State secretary for the Interior Raymond Knops wrote in a letter to the Parliament: “My appeal to public services is to release the source code, unless they have good reasons not to”.[1] The usage of open source software has been increasing within governments all over the world.

New blogpost series: VAT Talks

@Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash Almost everyone living in a country with a Value Added Tax (VAT), has to deal with this tax on a daily basis. To give people a better understanding of VAT and different VAT systems, we will start a new series of blog posts! In these articles, we will discuss VAT with experts from all over the world. These VAT specialists will give their perspective on the latest developments within the VAT world, specifically focusing on VAT fraud.

The EU tax gap

Governments all over the world have the same problem: there is a difference between the tax revenue collected and the tax revenue that should have been collected. This is called the tax gap. It is estimated that almost €1 trillion is lost on an annual basis within the European Union (EU) alone.[1] In this blogpost we’ll discuss the gaps of different types of taxes; import duties, personal income tax (PIT), corporate income tax (CIT), and value added tax (VAT).

VAT and economic crises

@Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash The entire world is currently doing its best to curb the corona crisis. During the last months, many governments announced economic rescue packages with a value of trillions of euros to tackle healthcare issues and related economic problems that the outbreak of the coronavirus is causing. These packages vary per country. However, all countries seem to agree on the fact that VAT adjustments can help.

Securing Alertmanager’s cluster traffic

@Photo by Pixabay Problem At summitto we use Prometheus for monitoring our infrastructure and Alertmanager for sending alerts. For reliability we wanted to make our monitoring system highly-available, with two Prometheis and Alertmanagers on different machines, which meant that the Alertmanagers needed to be in cluster mode to talk to each other and de-duplicate alerts. This cluster traffic needs to be secured, and since we don’t use any kind of service mesh like Consul or Istio, our initial thought was to use mutual TLS between the Alertmanagers, which we can do fairly easily with our reverse proxy[1], Haproxy.

The cost of cyber attacks

@Photo by Pixabay “Cyber attacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern in the next decade, with an estimated price tag of 90 trillion dollar if cybersecurity efforts do not keep pace with technological change” - World Economic Forum.[1] Over the last couple of years the number of successful cyber attacks has surged. To illustrate this: every 39 seconds a cyber attack occurs in the US.

History of the EU VAT system

Previously, we wrote about Value Added Tax (VAT) fraud. VAT is an excellent form of taxation as the responsibility to pay consumption taxes is distributed over the complete value chain, whilst only the end consumer actually pays taxes. This makes VAT a neutral form of taxation and to a certain extent both self-administering and self-policing. The rapid increase in the number of countries using a VAT system shows that the vast majority of countries agrees with the above.