On 5 November 2014, a group of international journalists uncovered the #LuxLeaks scandal: more than 300 secret 'sweetheart' deals – known as 'tax rulings' – were agreed between multinationals and the Luxembourg government between 2002 and 2010 in order to slash their global tax bills.
Since then, more revelations have shown other European governments and banks have been complicit in helping big business hide its assets and avoid paying the taxes they should. Journalists working on the #SwissLeaks files in February 2015 found bankers were helping wealthy clients evade taxes on an industrial scale and the Commission judged that tax deals for Fiat and Starbucks were beyond shady and were actually illegal state aid. Then, on 30 August 2016, the European Commission announced that they considered Ireland’s tax deal with Apple as illegal state aid. Apple was ordered to reimburse €13 billion in unpaid tax. The tax rulings had allowed Apple to pay a meagre 0.005% tax on all its European profits in 2014.
In April 2016, the #PanamaPapers unearthed evidence of money laundering, tax dodging, bogus offshore companies and illegal use of tax havens on a vast scale. The 11.5 million leaked documents revealed information on over 200,000 offshore companies, implicating amongst others 140 public officials, including 12 current and former world leaders!
In November 2017, the network of journalists behind the previous tax leaks broke the news with the #ParadisePapers, revealing even more offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders and exposing
the tax engineering of more than 100 multinational corporations, including Apple, Nike and Botox-maker Allergan.
- But it's clear these revelations are just the tip of a very large iceberg. These scandals have revealed the destructive tax competition between member states and the criminal lengths the rich and powerful – and the secretive industry that helps them – will go to hide their wealth and avoid paying a fair share to society.