| BRATISLAVA, Sept 9
BRATISLAVA, Sept 9 The European Commission will
step up its campaign against corporate tax avoidance with
proposals in the coming weeks on a common tax base for
multinationals operating in the European Union, the commissioner
for economic affairs said on Friday.
Brussels has been seeking for some time to toughen up its
approach, in part to ward off the threat of eurosceptics who
could pull the EU apart if it fails to show alienated voters it
can act in their interests.
The recent shock multi-billion euro tax demand on Apple
was part of that trend.
The 28 EU countries apply a wide range of tax exemptions and
deductions to companies, making it difficult for corporations
operating in more than one country to calculate their tax base,
which is the amount of net profits subject to taxation.
The bloc's complex tax system also allows companies with
bigger accounting departments to exploit the differences between
countries and reduce their final bill.
To close this loophole, the Commission will propose in the
coming weeks a single system of tax deductions, such as for
wages or other costs, for all the 28 countries. States will
maintain the power to decide tax rates.
"I will relaunch this semester a plan for a CCCTB (Common
Consolidated Corporate Tax Base)," the EU commissioner for
economic and tax affairs Pierre Moscovici told reporters on his
arrival to an informal meeting of EU finance ministers in
Bratislava, which will address tax issues.
A proposal on CCCTB is on the Commission's agenda for a
meeting on Nov. 9, an EU executive document shows.
An initial attempt by the Commission in 2011 to set up a
CCCTB failed as member states could not agree on the proposal,
for which a unanimous consensus is needed.
The outcry caused by revelations on tax avoidance schemes
used by multinationals and rich individuals to cut their tax
bills, such as the Panama Papers or the so-called LuxLeaks, have
emboldened the Commission and increased support for anti-tax
dodging measures in several member states, including the largest
of the bloc.
"The politics of reducing the excessive use of diverse tax
regulations is a common policy, which we in Europe are pushing
for with energy," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
But some smaller countries may remain reluctant to changes.
"There was a proposal on a common consolidated tax base some
years ago and got very little traction among members," Irish
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said before the meeting.
"Commissioner Moscovici said he was withdrawing the paper
but he would come back with a new paper based on the areas on
where it seems to be emerging consensus. We are awaiting that
paper," Noonan added.
Ireland has decided to appeal against a 13-billion-euro back
tax demand that the European Commission imposed on Apple in
August, fearing it could undermine the country's
long-established policy of attracting multinationals with low
Moscovici also said that in the coming days the Commission
will present to member states a "scoreboard" on foreign
countries' tax regimes with the aim to set up an EU blacklist of
tax havens which may be subject to sanctions.
(Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla and Tatiana
Jancarikova in Bratislava; Editing by Toby Chopra)