COMMISSION TAX PACKAGE – ONE CALLS FOR WIN-WIN DEAL THAT BENEFITS POOREST TOO
BRUSSELS, March 18th. At today’s press conference, the European Commission presented a first set of tax measures, as part of its agenda to tackle corporate tax avoidance and harmful tax competition in the EU. The measures are a first step, but in order to qualify as ‘transparency’ reforms as well, and to achieve their transformative potential, the EU should commit to making country-by-country reporting requirements for multinationals public.
Tax evasion poses a major drain on fiscal resources in Europe. But it is not just the EU that suffers: last year, developing countries lost an estimated $1 trillion to illicit financial flows as a result of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering.
The tax package proposed today contains several initiatives, including a commitment to evaluate the impact of requiring multinational companies to report on certain tax information on a country-by-country basis. We know that the potentially transformative impact of these measures lies, crucially, in the publication of those reports. Much of the preparatory work has already been done with select economic sectors in the EU, and in international fora. That is why ONE is asking the Commission to prepare its legislative proposal by June and to ensure multinationals’ reports are made public.
Tamira Gunzburg, director of ONE Brussels, said: “The Commission’s proposed reforms aim to address some of the structural challenges in the tax system. To truly achieve this goal, the Commission should kick off today’s announced plans without delay and prepare a legislative proposal by June to require multinationals to publicly report their revenues, taxes and profits on a country-by-country basis. This would benefit not just European citizens but also the world’s poorest.”
As demonstrated by the growing body of pioneering EU transparency legislation such as public reporting requirements for oil, gas and mining companies, this kind of domestic EU measures can deliver structural change for both EU citizens and those living in developing countries.
This is critical because the Commission’s package comes at a time not just of domestic pressure, but also of unique international negotiations, such as the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July. At this historic conference, the world will decide on how to mobilise sources of financing beyond aid in order to end extreme poverty by 2030.
At these important international meetings the EU will be expected to deliver. Public country-by-country reporting for large multinational companies could help developing countries follow the money and collect the taxes they are owed. This would unleash critical resources to invest in their own development and ultimately help reduce dependency on development aid.
To cash in on this win-win, the Commission must continue to enhance its reform package, with a focus on transparency, towards June.