Those who designed tax avoidance schemes must also be sanctioned, say S&Ds

Tax transparency: Liberals and Conservatives side with big business against interests of EU citizens, Evelyn Regner and Hugues Bayet, country-by country reporting, #TaxJustice

S&D Euro MPs today welcome the European Commission’s proposal on the role of intermediaries as ‘a new step towards increased tax transparency’.

S&D Group spokeswoman on economic and monetary affairs, Pervenche Berès, said:

“They act mostly in the shadow but the Panama Papers have shed a crude light on the role of intermediaries in organising and planning aggressive tax avoidance for big multinationals and wealthy people. With this new proposal the Commission intends to address the problem, which is good news. In a way, the intermediaries will be placed in front of their responsibilities.

“Tax advisors, whether they are banks or accountants for instance, will have to report any scheme to national authorities which might create massive tax avoidance. In order to face the creativity of the intermediaries and to be able to cover a sufficiently broad scope of professions, a list of specific hallmarks will be annexed and regularly updated to define what is considered aggressive tax planning. This proposal is an extra tool which will help national authorities identify potentially harmful loopholes in their tax system.

“We are pleased that the Commission is pushing member states to establish sanctions in case a tax advisor fails to comply with his/her obligations.  We strongly believe that these must be dissuasive and effective. Now we urge the EU member states to keep to the level of ambition set out in the Commission’s proposals.”

S&D Group spokesperson on the inquiry committee on the Panama Papers, Peter Simon, added:

“The European Commission has finally fulfilled our demands to have a closer look at the intermediaries and the role they play in the domain of tax avoidance.

“It is unfortunate that the European Commission did not show more courage against the general resistance of member states in tax matters by proposing stronger access rights.

“According to the proposal, the Commission will have to depend on the goodwill of member states and may only be fobbed off with statistical data. This will not help the Commission to fulfil its role as guardian of the treaties in the fight against tax avoidance.

“Usually years go by until loopholes in taxation can be detected and closed. This provides plenty of time for intermediaries of tax-dodging practices and their clients to profit at the expense of the general public. Thanks to the new reporting requirements, countries can now take immediate action against illicit tax practices. In addition, the disclosure requirements will ensure that aggressive tax planning will suffer a considerable decrease in public acceptance, because providers of tax avoidance schemes and their clients usually prefer to conduct their business in the shadows.

“Now it’s the member states’ turn to act. They have to bring forward the new legislation as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it can be expected that the usual suspects among them will try to block or water down the proposal in order to protect their business models. We will take up the fight. There is no more place for these business models in Europe.”