Volume 46 (2018) / Issue 11

Hannelore Niesten, 'Revisiting the Fiscal and Social Security Status of Highly Mobile Workers in the Road and Railway Transportation: Quo Vadis?' (2018) 46 Intertax, Issue 11, pp. 836–855


The increasing mobility due to globalization and the increasingly integrated nature of regional economies, for example in the European Union, provides an excellent opportunity to subject the fiscal and social security status of international highly mobile workers employed in the road and railway transportation to a critical evaluation. As far as the international taxing rights over cross-border employment income are concerned, most double tax treaties, based on Article 15 of the OECD Model Tax Convention, use ‘the actual physical place of employment’ as the main starting point. However, the criterion of the state where the employee is physically present is insufficiently attuned to the situation of highly mobile workers carrying out activities in the international road and railway transportation. Because of their mobility and the cross-border nature of their activities, highly mobile workers are exposed to complex interpretation and application problems. An excessive fragmentation of (the exercise of) the place of employment by multiple working states can increase the exposure to conflicting characterizations of facts, additionally on the basis of differences across domestic laws, thereby giving rise to a greater potential for unrelieved double taxation. Further inconveniences may arise from the fact that the obligations demanded by social security law are not always geographically aligned with those determining the place of employment for tax purposes.


The special focus of the present contribution lies in a critical comprehensive, in-depth attitude and evaluation of the interpretation and application problems with regard to (1) the place of exercise of employment of international transportation workers, and (2) the affiliated (dis) coordination between the tax allocation rules (double tax treaties) and the social security law rules (Regulation (EC) No 883/2004). Suggestions are made for a minimization of the detected application and interpretation problems regarding the tax jurisdiction over employment income of international transportation workers and the provision for better coordination between fiscal and social security law.

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ISSN: 0165-2826
ID: TAXI2018092