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EC plans new measures to improve tax transparency

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THE European Commission has set out further steps to boost tax transparency as part efforts to fight tax evasion and avoidance.

Taking account of the problems highlighted in the recent Panama Papers leak, the actions include improvements to the oversight of tax advisers’ activities and increasing cross-border transparency on beneficial ownership.

The Commission said it will examine how to shed more light on tax advisers’ activities and create effective disincentives for those that promote and enable aggressive tax planning.

It has also said it will improve access to the beneficial ownership registers. Member States will make public certain information of the beneficial ownership registers on companies and business-related trusts. Information on all other trusts will be included in the national registers and available to parties who can show a legitimate interest. The beneficial owners who have 10% ownership in certain companies that present a risk of being used for money laundering and tax evasion will be included in the registries. The threshold remains at 25% for all other companies.

In order to extend the information available to tax authorities, the Commission has proposed that existing, as well as new, accounts should be subject to due diligence controls.

“This will prevent accounts that are potentially used for illicit activities from escaping detection. Passive companies and trusts, such as those highlighted in the Panama Papers, will also be subject to greater scrutiny and tighter rules,” it said.

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