Eero Männistö, LLM, has focused in his doctoral dissertation on the acceptability of retroactive tax legislation at the time of drawing up new legislation. The dissertation employs the perspectives of EU law, human rights and fundamental rights, concentrating the analysis in particular on harmonised consumption tax legislation.
According to Männistö, potential drawbacks in retroactive tax legislation mainly originate in the fact that the Finnish Constitution has no specific prohibition on retroactive tax legislation.
“This partial deficiency may cause problems for taxpayers, since they are unable to fully rely on not being retroactively taxed,” Männistö notes.
Based on the dissertation, there are several reasons for giving consideration to whether to amend the Finnish Constitution with a prohibition on retroactive tax legislation.
“This consideration should be carried out in a comprehensive manner. Any prohibition of retroactive tax legislation should enable, among other things, a procedure that provides the legislature with sufficient opportunities to tackle tax evasion also retroactively,” Männistö assesses.
Deficiency of retroactive tax legislation also expressed through EU law
In Finland, issues related to retroactivity have been processed in terms of income tax legislation, but the increasing influence of EU law, particularly as regards harmonised consumption tax legislation, may have given rise to new kinds of interpretation issues that may have not yet received sufficient attention.
“For example, protection from retroactivity based on the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union may in practice be quite weak. Only in few cases has the European Court of Human Rights found retroactive tax legislation in violation of the constitutional protection of property,” says Männistö.
His dissertation also indicates that protection from retroactive tax legislation in Finland is not necessarily altogether sufficient. The Finnish system, where the implementation of retroactive tax legislation is monitored in advance by the parliamentary Committee for Constitutional Law and retroactively by the courts, does not necessarily always ensure sufficient legal protection for end-consumers or taxpayers.
“Neither does the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union provide definite additional protection for taxpayers, since the Charter’s significance is only now increasing in the field of taxation,” says Männistö.
Eero Männistö, LLM, will defend the doctoral dissertation entitled "Takautuvan verolainsäädännön hyväksyttävyys - Erityisesti EU-oikeuden ja perus- ja ihmisoikeuksien näkökulmasta tarkasteltuna" in the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, on 30 November 2018 at 12:15. The public examination will take place at the following address: Porthania, Suomen Laki -sali (PIV), Yliopistonkatu 3.
Professor Kalle Määttä, University of Lapland, will serve as the opponent, and Professor Marjaana Helminen as the custos.