BRUSSELS, March 18 European Union countries will
have to share information on tax deals agreed with major
corporations under European Commission plans to limit the
ability of big business to avoid tax across the 28-nation bloc.
EU members would from next year have three months to tell
neighbours about new cross-border tax rulings and also have to
divulge information on existing deals, European Economics
Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Wednesday.
These rulings provide guarantees on how a company will be
taxed, but can be exploited by artificially shifting profits to
the country where the rates are lowest.
The Tax Transparency Package (TTP) comes after international
criticism of the tax practices of Luxembourg, based on the
"LuxLeaks" disclosures, showing corporations secured beneficial
rulings to minimise their tax due on operations in Europe.
"The Commission feels it's time to establish fiscal equity,
so that companies pay what they owe, their fair share to the
right place," Moscovici said.
"There will be no escape clause and no room for
interpretation on these requirements. It will be simple. It's
The European Commission is also investigating whether the
tax arrangements in Luxembourg for U.S. retailer Amazon
and a unit of Italian carmaker Fiat amounted to unfair
state aid, as well as looking into the treatment of Starbucks
by the Netherlands and Apple by Ireland.
Critics such as anti-poverty charity Oxfam said the latest
proposals did nothing to prevent tax dodging, but Moscovici
denied they lacked teeth.
"Good behaviour will hopefully chase out bad behaviour. Tax
avoidance is bad publicity for companies," he said.
Moscovici said the EU wanted global exchange of tax ruling
information and the issue would be raised at an IMF meeting in
As part of TTP, the Commission will also consider whether to
secure public access to a limited set of tax information on
multinational companies, something already required for banks
and oil, gas, mining and logging businesses.
Anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International
said multinationals should be required to reveal earnings and
taxes on a country-by-country basis to hold them to account.
(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Keith Weir)