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EU tax commissioner calls for legal change to crack down on tax avoidance
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EU tax commissioner calls for legal change to crack down on tax avoidance

14.11.2017 From our online archive
Less than 10 days after the publication of the Paradise Papers, the EU tax commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, has called on the EU Parliament to ensure legal changes are made to enable a more effective crackdown on tax avoidance.
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici gestures as he presents the EU Autumn 2017 economic forecast at the European Commission in Brussels on November 9, 2017.

Less than 10 days after the publication of the Paradise Papers, the EU tax commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, has called on the EU Parliament to ensure legal changes are made to enable a more effective crackdown on tax avoidance. 

At a speech on Tuesday at the parliament, during which he appealed to politicians for their help, Moscovici laid out three propositions to guarantee greater transparency, which he described as "our first weapon."

The tax commissioner called on the EU Council to vote -- within six months -- on his proposal to force tax advisers, including lawyers, bankers and consultants, to systematically report "fiscal optimisation schemes" to the relevant authorities in the country of the "buyer".

"If these schemes are illegal, the fiscal administrations will be able to start prosecution. If they are legal the fiscal administrations will be able to spot the loophole and fix it," Moscovici said.

The Frenchman's second proposal is to introduce compulsory "public reporting" for companies, to make fiscal information currently available only to tax authorities, available to everyone. 

Moscovici wants that information available to "citizens, media, NGOs" to give citizens "a power of control and pressure without precedent... because it's by pressure through the media, but also pressure through the public opinion that we will be able to change the rules."

The tax commissioner's third proposal is to introduce a European black list of tax havens, which he wants EU member states to agree upon in early December. 

Since the release of the Paradise Papers, there has been a renewed urgency among EU countries to push measures through that would help put an end to tax avoidance, and Moscovici has now called on them to "take their responsibilities".

Just days after the release of the Paradise Papers, Luxembourg was pulled into the scandal as documents showed that a complex structure of companies in the Grand-Duchy allowed private equity giant Blackstone to avoid paying tens of millions of pounds on UK property acquisitions.

(Barbara Tasch, +352 4993 732, barbara.tasch@wort.lu)