Saturday

26th Sep 2020

EU plans 'revolution' on sweetheart tax deals

  • Moscovici - EU won't be timid on 'unacceptable' sweetheart tax deals

New EU plans to force governments to send quarterly reports on tax rulings are a “revolutionary” step towards overcoming corporate secrecy, the bloc’s tax commissioner has said.

The blueprint published two weeks ago by the Commission would establish a system of automatic exchange of information on tax rulings and require national authorities to send each other short reports every three months. The current rules allow governments to refuse to exchange information.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking on Monday (30 March) at a hearing of the European Parliament’s special committee on tax rulings, taxation commissioner Pierre Moscovici described the proposal as “a first step towards more transparent and fairer taxation in the EU".

The Commission believes that creating more ‘peer pressure’ by requiring member states to be more transparent in their tax rulings would create a “virtuous circle” between states and companies. However, critics have complained that the new plan would not require controversial tax rulings to be published, meaning that the public will still remain in the dark.

The EU executive is currently investigating whether so-called ‘sweetheart’ tax agreements in Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, involving Apple, Starbucks and Fiat, constitute illegal subsidies.

The creation of the Parliament committee was prompted by the LuxLeaks scandal which indicated that a host of companies had benefited from a variety of tax avoidance schemes set up in Luxembourg while the current European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was prime minister.

In particular, Luxembourg’s tax regime allows companies to benefit from significant reductions to their tax rate on income earned from intellectual property.

The special committee will produce an own initiative report and a legislative report, but its terms of reference were weakened by the Parliament’s centrist political groups, meaning that it does not have the right to demand documents on tax rulings from individual governments.

Instead, a non-legislative report will examine fiscal practices across the bloc, accompanied by a proposal to the commission on tax evasion and tax avoidance.

The Commission is keen to update its rules on information exchange to include a new global standard put in place by the finance ministers from the G20 of industrial nations and the Paris-based OECD think tank. The annual exchange would include balances, interest, dividends, and sales proceeds from financial assets.

"We are in a crucial phase that calls for swift action that goes beyond the tax transparency package", said Moscovici, adding that “we need tax fairness in the EU and we need a true single market for taxation.

But the EU executive’s actions are constrained by the EU treaties which stipulate that any common laws in the field of taxation must be agreed with the unanimous support of all 28 national governments.

EU proposes new tax transparency rules

Peer pressure will underpin a new European Commission proposal to make big companies pay their fair share of tax and prevent governments from cheating others out of taxable revenue streams.

McDonald's accused of avoiding €1bn in taxes

Fast-food giant McDonald’s has avoided paying €1 billion in tax across the EU, and should be included in the EU’s probe on ‘sweet-heart’ tax deals, according to a report by trade unions and NGOs published Wednesday.

EU considering mandatory corporate tax base

The European Commission has said it will reintroduce a previously shelved plan for a common corporate tax system in a bid to clamp down on tax avoidance by multinationals

Analysis

China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US

China's pledge to become carbon neutral before 2060 is "good news" for Europe, but it sends a clear message to Washington ahead of the US election - in which climate change has become a significant aspect for voters.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  2. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US
  3. Far right using pandemic to win friends in Germany
  4. Visegrad countries immediately push back on new migration pact
  5. Why no EU progress on Black Lives Matter?
  6. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  7. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  8. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us