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European Commission’s Tax Transparency Package keeps tax deals secret

Added 18 Mar 2015
Campaigners disappointed with unambitious package but European Commission has second chance to deliver in June

Wednesday 18th March 2015

The European Commission’s new measures to combat secret tax deals made between multinational companies and governments cannot be called tax transparency, as they fail to give citizens access to any information.

The
Tax Transparency Package, published today in response to the Luxembourg Leaks scandal, makes some improvements to the information that tax administrations receive, but keeps tax rulings confidential, denying proper public scrutiny of governments’ tax administrations and large companies.

Tove Maria Ryding, Head of Tax Justice at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), said: “This is not tax transparency or tax justice. The veil of secrecy remains in place.”

Twenty-two EU member states currently offer tax rulings – also known as “comfort letters” - to multinational enterprises. These agreements have been abused to offer “sweetheart deals” to companies, which is why the public needs access to this information.

The lack of public information also means that tax administrations in developing countries cannot identify corporate tax dodgers.

"Though this tax transparency package is supposed to be a response to the Luxembourg Leaks, it's only addressing a fraction of the problem," said Koen Roovers, EU Advocate for the Financial Transparency Coalition. "Over 150 companies in the leak were associated with the United States, but they will simply be out of bounds under this proposal.

“If all EU tax rulings were made public, companies would have a harder time negotiating the types of tax deals that don’t stand up to public scrutiny,” Roovers added.

Public tax rulings and country by country reporting - which would mean that multinational corporations would have to publish where they run their businesses and where they pay their taxes - would have delivered tax transparency.

Tove Ryding added: “The European Commission has the chance to make a real difference in June, when it releases its Corporate Tax Package. We hope that the baby steps taken in this package will turn into strides for real change in the summer.”

ENDS

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact Julia Ravenscroft, Communications Manager at Eurodad, on +32 2 893 0854 or on jravenscroft@eurodad.org.


Notes to Editors:

· The Tax Transparency Package is the first of a set of measures which will be followed up by a Corporate Tax Package in June. This will be implemented from the summer onwards, under the new Luxembourg presidency.