A delegation from the European Parliament will visit London on Thursday to explore the role played by The City and the UK’s overseas dependencies in the global system of tax avoidance by corporations. The MEPs are all members of the TAXE special committee set up in the wake of the Luxleaks scandal. The aim of the delegation visits to selected cities in Europe is to gather information on the harmful mechanisms and practices that make them tax havens. The 45-member committee will present its findings and recommendations in a final report due in the autumn.
During the visit the delegation will hold discussions with those involved in tax rulings including the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP, HMRC and Treasury officials and members of House of Commons and House of Lords, including Margaret Hodge, former chair of the Public Accounts Committee. They will also meet business representatives, tax advisors and NGOs. The delegation includes Molly Scott Cato MEP, an economist who is also tax policy spokesperson for the Greens in the Parliament. She said:
“Tax competition or dumping is a major underlying problem, which undermines the EU’s internal market. These delegation visits help provide the information we need in order to make recommendations on clamping down on the regulatory loopholes which allow corporations to shift profits around to avoid taxation. The special tax committee presents an opportunity to shine a light on those who are responsible for tax dumping and to push for effective laws in Europe.”
The delegation’s visit will come a day after the EU Commission presents its second tax package which will argue for the benefits to business of a streamlined and consolidated tax system across all EU member states. Dr Scott Cato wants reassurances from the UK government that they will support robust action against tax avoidance. She said:
“I challenge George Osborne and David Gauke to live up to their rhetoric on ending tax avoidance and support the Commission’s plans for a common consolidated corporate tax base in the EU and country-by-country reporting. We should remember that tax, when used strategically, is vital in moving our society towards the sort of future we imagine for our children, a future of sustainability as well as justice.”