Nick Shaxson ■ The false promise of tax haven blacklists
This week, European Union finance ministers agreed to establish a common EU blacklist of so-called “non-cooperative jurisdictions” – in other words, tax havens. With one tax scandal unfolding after the other, listing and sanctioning tax havens may seem like a good solution. However, as tempting as it may sound, this EU exercise is doomed to fail – and here’s why.
. . . Tax havens are not an external matter to the EU, quite the contrary – some of the world’s most powerful tax havens are to be found in Europe.
For example, a new report from Oxfam uses European Commission (EC) data to analyse the role of the Netherlands as a corporate tax haven. It shows how the Netherlands is making large-scale tax avoidance possible and how Dutch regulations are an integral part of the international tax system that enables multinationals to avoid at least US$100 billion in taxes in developing countries every year. Several other EU Member States – such as Luxembourg, Ireland, Malta and the UK – have also been criticised for helping multinational corporations to avoid taxes. Yet you will not find any of these countries on a blacklist produced by the EU.
And try putting the United States on a blacklist. These are points we’ve made before, and why we’ve argued that lists based on verifiable objective criteria are the way forwards. Take a look, now, at this comparison we’ve done, of our (objectively verifiable) Financial Secrecy, versus the OECD’s heavily politicised Global Forum (GF), looking how each treats the various shenanigans offered by various countries.
As Eurodad put it:
“Only a year ago, in June 2015, the EC made an attempt to publish a list of countries considered to be uncooperative on tax matters. Not only did it exclude all EU countries, it also did not mention any of the EU’s traditional allies, such as Switzerland and the United States (US). This is in spite of the fact that the Financial Secrecy Index last year ranked Switzerland as the most important provider of international financial secrecy.”
There’s plenty more from Eurodad: now read on.