The European Union has an indirect interest in taxes: it addresses taxation only to the extent that it can hinder market integration. However, the impact on the national concepts of a taxpayer has been relevant. Taxpayers are usually analysed, under the lens of contemporary EU law, as economic agents—or, much less often, as EU citizens—whose freedom of movement is affected by tax systems. Relevant EU secondary legislation consists of regulations on VAT and excise duties and several aspects of direct taxation on companies. It seeks a neutral tax treatment of economic activities and operations in order to promote the free flow of goods, services, people and capital. On the other hand, as the harmonization is incomplete, legal gaps have been filled, to a large extent, by ECJ case law. Here, the status of an EU non-resident has emerged. The case law broadens the applicability of the ability to pay principle, and questions a strongly held principle that there is no comparability between resident and non-resident taxpayers. The ECJ requires Member States to justify most disparities between the two groups, and does not allow different treatment regarding the determination and recovery of tax debts if administrative cooperation is a viable alternative.
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