S&Ds on Commission tax-rulings package: "A good first step but more must be done for full transparency"

S&Ds on Commission tax-rulings package: "A good first step but more must be done for full transparency"

Today the European Commission presented a first package of measures for increased tax transparency in the EU. It contains among other things the obligation for member states to automatically exchange information – from 2016 onwards – about 'tax rulings with a cross-border dimension' which member states have issued to companies.

The fight against tax fraud and avoidance has long been a top priority for the S&D Group and several reports have been issued by our Group with a clear call for action for more #TaxJustice. In February 2012, we also produced a report on the 'tax gap', which highlighted that €1 trillion is lost every year through tax avoidance, tax fraud and aggressive tax planning.

Commenting on the Commission's tax package, S&D Group president Gianni Pittella MEP said:

"A positive first step has been taken by the EU Commission to defend the rights of European citizens from tax fraud and tax evasion. Our aim is to prevent further cases, such as #LuxLeaks, which remain morally unacceptable but legally permitted. Transparency is the first step but now we have to turn these morally unacceptable practices into legally banned and pursued offences.

"Much remains to be done: Socialists and Democrats will fully commit in order to get the country-by-country reporting and the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) included in the second package to be announced by the Commission."

S&D co-ordinator in the European Parliament's special committee on tax rulings (TAXE) Peter Simon MEP stated:
"In the special committee on tax rulings, the Socialists and Democrats will make sure that transparency on tax rulings is increased. The jungle of tax evasion encouraged by the state must be thoroughly investigated in order to ensure all controversial tax models are uncovered. The results of the work in this committee will also feed into the report of my colleague Anneliese Dodds MEP, who will deliver a comprehensive package of measures for fairer corporate taxation in Europe. Transparency alone will not be sufficient, illegitimate practices have to become illegal."

Elisa Ferreira MEP, S&D co-ordinator on economic affairs and co-rapporteur on the TAXE report, added:
"I am happy to see that the pressure we have put on the Commission to come up with a mandatory and centralised system of information exchange on tax rulings has borne fruit. This is a positive move, but more is needed – in particular to ensure full transparency on present and past tax rulings which are still in place and addressing the lack of information on 'natural persons' (individuals rather than organisations). I am however disappointed that the Commission has not taken this opportunity to come up with proposals for a common European definition of tax havens and for the creation of a black list of firms that evade tax – and those that advise them."

Anneliese Dodds MEP, economic and monetary affairs co-rapporteur on the report on 'Bringing transparency, co-ordination and convergence to corporate tax policies in the Union', concluded:

"I am delighted that the pressure from our Group has led to concrete results. It is high time we stopped nebulous claims of 'commercial confidentiality' from blocking tax inspectors' access to essential information and it is great news that information will now be exchanged automatically between tax administrations on so-called 'tax rulings'. Furthermore, the Commission recognises the potential benefits of country-by-country reporting for multinationals, the creation of a European Tax Identification Number, action in Europe to back the OECD's anti-BEPS (base erosion and profit shifting) project and the revitalisation of work on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base. Nonetheless, much more action is needed to stop tax fiddling. The clock is now ticking to decide which extra measures should go into an additional package the Commission will put forward before summer."