LuxLeaks: Little change in tax avoidance loopholes one year on from revelations
British MEP Anneliese Dodds has accused national governments of hampering progress in tackling corporate tax dodging, warning that EU capitals are “far too focussed on their own self-interests”.
On the anniversary of the breaking of the LuxLeaks scandal, Dodds said MEPs had made some progress in stamping out aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, following the recent report from the Parliament’s special committee set up to investigate national tax rulings.
“A special tax committee (TAXE) was set up, and we have held hearings with tax experts, cross-examined the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and CEOs of major companies, and visited countries across Europe to work out what is rotten and how we can fix it.”
Dodds said Parliament’s work was, ” good news”, before adding, “Now, the bad news. Most of the powers to really effect change are in the hands of individual EU governments. And their response in many cases has been woeful.”
British daily newspaper, The Guardian, revealed on Wednesday that the UK has joined the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in blocking Parliament’s TAXE committee access to documents detailing taxation policies for multinational corporations.
“At every turn, the national governments that make up the European Council seem determined to pursue narrow self-interest above greater unity,” said Dodds.
“They have watered down the plans to exchange information about ‘tax rulings’. They have held up negotiations towards introducing public country-by-country reporting for multinational companies. And they have already indicated that they might well block plans for a fairer way of calculating tax.”
Greens/EFA group deputy Sven Giegold MEP said that despite the TAXE committee’s report which proposed a complete overhaul of corporate tax practices very little has been done to address the taxation loopholes that were originally identified last year.
“In the aftermath of the LuxLeaks revelations, Commission president [Jean-Claude] Juncker made the fight against tax avoidance and dumping a priority of this European Commission; one year and very little has changed.”
“Big corporations can continue to conclude and benefit from special arrangements to avoid their tax responsibilities. Almost no progress has been made in addressing the loopholes in EU law, which make these practices possible.”
Several corporations will be questioned at a meeting hosted by the TAXE committee on 16 November. Companies that have confirmed their attendance include Google; Facebook; Coca Cola Barclays and HSBC.