On November 12, 2021, Dr. Matthias Gries, Deputy Chairman of Expert Committee VI (“Distributed Ledger in Taxation Processes”) at IDSt, was awarded the Bureaucracy Science Prize by the Institute of German Business for his dissertation “Value Added Tax and Statistical Investigation of Reporting Obligations in Intra-Community Trade in Goods – A normative and quantitative analysis for the reduction of Bureaucracy in enterprises using the example of Siemens AG.” This is the second time he has been awarded a prize for his scientific achievements. He previously won the prestigious Schmalenbach Prize for his work. We congratulate on the renewed award.
In line with the objectives of the IDSt, Matthias Gries examined how a “reporting procedure 1.0”, which has remained unchanged since 1993, can be adapted to the age of digitalization in intra-Community trade in goods. He demonstrates different approaches to reform. The savings potential for the German economy are estimated at 1.5 billion euros annually. At the same time, data quality for official statistics would be improved.
Problems with the current reporting system
While the state receives an administrative cost rate of 2-4% of the revenue from the church for collecting the church tax, entrepreneurs act as “collectors” of tax and statistical data for the treasury free of charge. In addition, the legacy reporting system requires up to five different reporting obligations (with different addressees and processes for transmission) for the entrepreneur in the case of an intra-Community movement of goods. Synergy effects are not taken into account in the reporting system, which means that numerous data are queried redundantly in the various reports. Reporting differences between tax and statistics affect the quality of foreign trade statistics. In addition, entrepreneurs have to face sanctions in case of reporting discrepancies between tax and statistics.
Ideas for reforming the reporting system
In his differentiated analysis, Matthias Gries identifies the causes of potential reporting differences between official statistics and sales taxation, systematizes them and develops possible solutions for an integrated reporting system. Possible solutions include both, adaptations of the current system and basic approaches to a digitized, blockchain- or cloud-based “reporting system.”
Reform approach 1: Linking the tax and statistical reporting procedure
A reduction of the reporting burden for traders participating in intra-Community trade of goods by approx. 50% could be achieved if the tax and statistical reporting procedures were linked to a summary VAT and Statistics reporting (ZMSM). Furthermore, if the investigated reporting differences between tax and statistics are eliminated before, the statistical data quality will increase.
Reform approach 2: Blockchain
For a comprehensive reform of the reporting system, it makes sense to map the tax and statistical reporting procedure by means of an automated reporting system within the framework of a blockchain. In this case, the outdated reporting system would be replaced by a data reference system with authorized access rights for the authority.
The government has set itself the goal of reducing government-generated bureaucratic costs. The work of Matthias Gries shows a possibility for this and could enable a basis for discussion on the political level for the further development of the reporting system in the intra-Community movement of goods. The author gives important impulses for a further development towards a digital reporting system, which can be usefully taken into account in the context of the work of the III. and VI. expert committee of the IDSt.
The work is available as a hybrid publication. In order to strengthen the dialogue between science and practice, a short article of the study is available in open source format in the “journal” Schmalenbach-Impulse (see below).
The dissertation in the series business and taxes (Volume 85) published by Shaker Verlag:
Schmalenbach-Award winner 2019: