16th Apr 2021

Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium escape tax blacklist

  • Luxembourg: not a tax haven, according to the OECD, which also put Russia on a "white" list (Photo: EUobserver)

EU countries Austria, Luxembourg and Belgium, as well as non-EU member Switzerland, have not been put on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) blacklist of non-co-operative financial centres.

Instead, they figure on a so-called "grey" list of eight countries that "have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard, but have not yet substantially implemented" it.

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In addition, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Gibraltar, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are listed among the 30 "tax havens" that also have yet to "substantially implement" the international tax standards.

Following mounting pressure from both sides of the Atlantic to crack down on non-cooperating tax zones that profit by taking in capital owned by companies and wealthy individuals from abroad, many of those territories had announced a relaxation of their banking secrecy laws in the last months.

Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Andorra all made declarations in March vowing to better comply with international standards.

The OECD put four countries - Costa Rica, Malaysia, the Philippines and Uruguay - on its blacklist, saying they had "not committed to the internationally agreed tax standard."

The organisation made its lists public following the commitment of G20 leaders earlier on Thursday (2 April) to act against tax havens.

"We have agreed that there will be an end to tax havens that do not transfer information upon request," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was reported as saying at the end of the G20 summit.

"The banking secrecy of the past must come to an end."

A final OECD "white list" named the 40 countries that have "substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard," such as the US, Russia, China and Turkey, but also most EU states – including France, the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.

"Recent developments reinforce the status of the OECD standard as the international benchmark and represent significant steps towards a level playing field," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria stated after the lists were released.

"I am confident that we can turn these new commitments into concrete actions to strengthen the integrity and transparency of the financial system," he added.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.


Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

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