EU launch plan to stamp out tax avoidance

BRUSSELS : The European Union will launch plans on Thursday to stamp out tax avoidance by multi-national corporations whose rock-bottom tax bills have provoked public outrage.

The plans are part of a multi-pronged push by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to combat tax avoidance, alongside investigations into the tax deals of major groups such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and Fiat.

It comes as Google agreed on Friday to pay 130 million ($185.4 million) in back taxes to Britain after a scathing government inquiry into the search giant’s tax arrangements.

“Recent studies at the European parliament estimate the revenue loss at around 50 to 70 billion euros ($55-75 billion) a year, roughly the equivalent of the GDP of Bulgaria,” said Economics Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici during a news briefing.

It is money that is taken from our hospitals, schools, transport, security and other vital public services,” the former French finance minister added.

The European Commission said major corporations whose business spans continents will now be obliged to report profit country by country in an unprecedented break with the previous practice of moving money across borders to save on tax.

Another requirement will compel nations to agree on minimum standards for drawing up tax rules, so that multinationals stop the practice of shopping around for loopholes to avoid paying tax altogether.

“The days are numbered for companies that excessively reduce their tax bills,” Moscovici said, adding that he hoped to finalise the proposals this year.



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