Yesterday the European Parliament held a crucial tax justice vote on making multinational companies with an annual net turnover of 750 million euros and above publicly report their activities, structures and tax payments on a country-by-country basis. That would mean no more secrecy around those things that affect the welfare of you, me and the rest of the world on a daily basis. It would mean the end of the outrageous secret deals done with governments behind closed doors. Each country would know how much tax a multinational company contributes to their Treasuries. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
At TJN we have fought a long campaign on this issue, joined by many friends in the tax justice movement. When TJN first floated this idea along with Richard Murphy it was laughed at. Now we’re moving closer and closer to it. But we’re not there yet.
You can read more on the benefits of public country-by-country reporting here. And here’s why this issue is so important:
There has been much talk of the threats from the British Chancellor to turn the UK into a full-blown tax haven post-Brexit if the European Union doesn’t give it a good trade deal. We discussed ‘Brexit threats’ in our January podcast. Now our Director Alex Cobham has written an article for Politico on how, contrary to how it may appear, Brexit actually gives Brussels more power to address British tax and financial secrecy.
On July 22nd, 2016 the French supreme constitutional court ruled on a case brought by a US American citizen resident in France who had created a trust, allegedly to distribute her inheritance. She was contesting moves by France to set up a public register of trusts connected to France in an attempt to tackle tax fraud and serious economic and financial crime. So, what does this mean for transparency and tax justice?
EU governments are very close to agreeing the criteria for the EU tax haven blacklist, expected to be finalised around September 2017 so the list can be endorsed by the end of 2017.
From the Greens / Europe Free Alliance in the European Parliament, a new initiative called EU Leaks:
EUleaks is a European platform where you can submit information in a highly secure and anonymous way.
Transparency and accountability are essential for democratic governance. The EUleaks project provides a platform for increasing transparency by providing a new tool for information in the public interest to be made available. EUleaks offers a venue for the realisation of freedom of expression as a fundamental right.
This comes in the context of a story which is summarised in a Guardian headline: Panama Papers: European parliament opens inquiry. (That is a fascinating story in its own right.)
More on EU Leaks from the website of Sven Giegold, who is a founder of the EU Leaks project (and a founder of TJN too, as it happens):