Greens win support for new measures to tackle tax avoidance

The European Parliament today voted in favour of several Green-backed proposals on tackling tax avoidance in Europe. A majority of MEPs backed public Country by Country Reporting (CBCR), a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base and a more comprehensive definition of tax havens, all of which have been championed by the Greens. A Green amendment calling for the creation of a special fund to support whistleblowers was narrowly defeated by 338 to 328 votes.

The advantageous tax schemes countries have used to court multinationals have been investigated by a special committee on tax, set up in the wake of the Lux Leaks revelations. The committee has made various recommendations on legislation to restrain tax competition between EU countries. Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, is one of the members of the committee. She said:

“Public country-by-country tax reporting is a crucial measure for ensuring transparency of corporate taxation. This obligation can enable proper scrutiny of tax management schemes and provide full transparency on the type of tax rulings which were the subject of the Lux Leaks revelations. Likewise, a common approach to tax bases and tax rates in the EU will help stop tax competition between States and a race to the bottom.”

Dr Scott Cato expressed deep regret that the amendment calling for the creation of a special fund to support whistleblowers was narrowly defeated. The fund would be made up of money clawed back from illegal sweetheart tax deals. This is a measure she has personally pushed hard for and pointed to the fact that if Tory MEPs had voted in favour the amendment would have been adopted. She said:

“Last year whistleblower Antoine Deltour disclosed hundreds of tax agreements between the Luxembourg authorities and multinational corporations. This large scale tax avoidance became known as LuxLeaks and provoked indignant reactions around the world. But rather than be rewarded for exposing this scandal, Deltour faces trial and the possibility of 5 years in jail. It is totally wrong that someone who has uncovered the sweetheart tax deals that have robbed Europe of billions in tax revenue should be treated in this way. I am therefore disappointed that MEPs failed to back this Green amendment for protecting and supporting those who courageously put themselves on the frontline of tackling tax avoidance and who make a stand for tax justice.

“Despite the Tories rhetoric on supporting a clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion it seems when it comes to a measure that can support those who expose such practices they actually prefer business as usual. Their refusal to vote in favour lost the vote.”