01 Dec 2015 - 31 Dec 2018

Study and Reports on the VAT Gap in the EU-28 Member States


Tax evasion is estimated to cost public budgets billions of euros a year across the EU. Moreover, it challenges the principle of fair taxation and prevents fair competition between businesses. Tackling tax evasion is therefore one of the Commission's top political priorities, while Member States are also working to tighten up their tax systems and recapture the significant revenues lost to tax evaders.

VAT is one of the main sources of revenue for the EU Member States. Moreover, a proportion of Member States' VAT revenues are used as own resources for the EU budget. Consequently, tackling VAT fraud and evasion is a critical part of addressing the wider tax evasion problem. Quantifying the scale of the VAT Gap can assist in developing well-targeted measures to this end, and in monitoring the effectiveness of these measures.

The VAT Gap, however, refers to more than just fraud and evasion. It also covers the VAT lost due to e.g. insolvencies, bankruptcies, administrative errors and legal tax optimisation. There is an on-going EU reform process to make the VAT system simpler, more efficient and more robust. Meanwhile Member States are called upon to broaden their tax bases and improve their administrations for better tax compliance, as part of their national structural reforms. In this regard, data on certain inefficiencies in the VAT systems, and analysis of the VAT policy gap, are useful in shaping reform measures at both EU and national level. 


In general, the project is the continuation of the “Study to quantify and analyse the VAT gap in the EU-27 Member States” implemented by CASE as a part of the consortium led by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in 2013 and further. The detailed objectives of this update are:

  • To carry out a study on the VAT Gap in all EU Member States for the year 2014 (including revisions for 2010-2013). The study should also examine the VAT Policy Gap for the same period, and estimate the respective contribution that VAT reduced rates and exemptions make to this gap.
  • To produce a report on the abovementioned VAT Gap study, detailing the findings and analysing the trends, for publication in 2016 (hereafter: the 2016 Report) .
  • To continue with the study for the year 2015 (including revisions for 2011-2014, if necessary) and produce an updated report for publication in 2017 (hereafter: the 2017 Report).
  • To ensure that the results in the reports are comparable to the results of the VAT Gap reports published in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This comparability is important for monitoring trends and assessing the effectiveness of measures taken to address the VAT Gap.
  • To ensure that the methodology used is explained in detail in the 2016 Report. Any later changes or issues with respect to this methodology should be clearly outlined in the 2017 Report.
  • To further develop the methodology applied for estimating the VAT Gap/Policy Gap in order to get a better understanding of the elements of the gap and the reasons behind it.
  • To liaise closely with the Commission services and Member States in the compilation, finalisation and presentation of the reports. This would include consulting on the estimated data before finalising the reports, presenting the results of the reports, and answering questions on the content and methodology. This would be done at specific meetings and/or through written replies, as necessary.


The project will be composed of two separate stages, one for the estimates for 2014 (the 2016 Report), and one for 2015 (the 2017 Report).  The schedule of the project will be largely analogous to the corresponding updates carried out by the team in 2014 and 2015.

The first stage of the project is expected to take approximately seven months. The second stage will proceed along an identical  timeline, and will take six months.

Both first and second stage of the project will be split into phases: inception phase, interim phase and final phase.

Each inception phase will be devoted to the initial communication with the Stakeholder to clarify the VAT Gap/Policy Gap methodology updates. During the interim phase preliminary updates will be prepared and presented to the contact persons of the VAT Gap study from the Member States. Final phase will start with eventual corrections to the estimates, learnt from the communication with the Member States, and will end with report’s submission.          

Sponsor: Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD)

Partners: IHS, Institute for Advanced Studies