06 Dec 2017 | 11.17 am
EU Tax Havens Blacklist Omits Ireland
Oxfam says we should be on it
06 Dec 2017 | 11.17 am
EU finance ministers have agreed a list of 17 countries which it calls ‘non-cooperative tax jurisdictions’ — tax havens in common parlance. No European Union member state is listed, despite criticisms that several EU countries including Ireland are ‘tax opaque’.
The EU blacklist consists of countries which fail to meet agreed tax good governance standards, and also includes 47 countries that have committed to addressing deficiencies in their tax systems and to meet the required criteria.
The tax havens named and shamed by the EU are American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
Oxfam recently published its own list of 35 countries, which includes four EU member states — Ireland, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — described by the poverty lobby group as “among the world’s worst corporate tax havens”.
“Brazil has recently decided to add Ireland to its national list of tax havens and has assessed some European tax regimes as harmful,” the Oxfam report stated. “To ensure that it achieves its stated goal of policy coherence for development, the EU needs to address the fact that while it is promoting development policies and providing aid to developing countries, EU tax havens are simultaneously diverting resources that are badly needed to pay for health and education services in the world’s poorest countries.”
Oxfam assessed all 28 EU member states according to the EU’s own criteria, and found that at least four EU countries would feature on the EU tax havens blacklist if screened.
Europe has the lowest nominal average corporate tax rate in the world of any region, the EU does not list member states or evaluate their tax behaviour, and Oxfam said that if it really wishes to promote fair taxation worldwide, the EU should also address the practices of its own member states.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson for the Greens/EFA, said: “It undermines the EU’s credibility that member states were only able to agree on a whitewashed blacklist of tax havens.
“Not one of the most important tax havens has been put on the list. The list is politically biased, as relevant financial centres like the USA are missing. It is a bad joke that due to the hurricanes, eight Caribbean islands have been given additional time to answer the information requests from the Council.”
The publication of the EU list is in part a reaction to the publication of the ‘Panama Papers’ last year and the more recent revelations in the ‘Paradise Papers’. Some EU states believe the public shaming was punishment enough, but others, including France, want to see tough measures imposed, such as excluding the listed nations from World Bank or EU funding. However, no EU sanctions are being directed at those countries at present.