EU steps up probe into tax haven activities. Hit ’em hard

   0   0 Blog, Taxing corporations

From the Financial Times:

“Brussels has stepped up its probe into alleged illegal sweeteners offered to multinationals by expanding the investigation to cover arrangements for patent-holders and ordering Luxembourg to reveal its promises to specific companies.

The rare issuance of a formal injunction requiring Luxembourg to co-operate indicates the importance the EU’s top antitrust regulator is placing on its scrutiny of tax deals several European countries offered the likes of Starbucks and Apple.”

The investigation, which began last summer, now covers at least six countries – “we are not a tax haven” Ireland,  Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Gibraltar, and (the FT reports today) the United Kingdom. Cyprus, Malta and Hungary have similar ‘patent box’ schemes to the UK, and could also be in the firing line, though the EU has not made details public. The EU probe, the FT adds, it “is now led by some of Brussels’ most seasoned investigators.”

The Irish Times adds:

“Yesterday, the commission disclosed that it had issued a formal injunction requiring Luxembourg to co-operate with the inquiry, saying the jurisdiction had “failed to adequately answer previous requests for information” on the grounds that it impinged on “fiscal secrecy”.
. . .
Should the commission find evidence of illegal state support it can require all revenue lost from unlawful sweetheart deals to be recouped.”

Phew! Hit ’em hard, we say. Break down those walls of secrecy, criminality and abuse.

Along with Europe’s recent apparent victory on the subject of secrecy, this is all potentially very good news for ordinary taxpayers around the world.

We don’t have time today to do justice to this story; we’re blogging this really as a marker.

Click on the links to read the histories of how Ireland, Luxembourg, and Belgium became tax havens.

Related Posts

The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]


Protesting PwC: Professionals Without Conscience

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceThis week is the global week of action for tax justice and on Wednesday 5th April activists from the Tax Justice Network and Methodists for Tax Justice held a protest outside the London offices of Price Waterhouse Coopers. The global week of action for tax justice is happening one year after the release of the […]


Germany moves forward on corporate transparency

ReichstagThe Bundesrat has today voted to recommend implementing a public register of the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts.  Great news from Germany, as the country takes an important step forward towards corporate transparency.


New estimates reveal the extent of tax avoidance by multinationals

Price Waterhouse CoopersNew figures published today by the Tax Justice Network provide a country-level breakdown of the estimated tax losses to profit shifting by multinational companies. Applying a methodology developed by researchers at the International Monetary Fund to an improved dataset, the results indicate global losses of around $500 billion a year. The figures appear in a […]


Banking Secrecy in China, its related territories and Taiwan

Hong Kong from Sky 100Foreword. The Tax Justice Network is a non partisan network of experts working towards transparency, so we do not take any position about countries’ territorial and political claims. However, we do expect countries with a de jure (legal) or de facto (in practice) influence over other territories, to take responsibility for their power. We point […]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top