Europe brings in anti-avoidance measures

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION will “blacklist” countries known to be tax havens after it brought in a series of measures to combat tax evasion and avoidance.

Taxation and anti-fraud minister Algirdas Semeta said tax avoidance and tax evasion cost the EU economy around €1trn (£810bn) a year.

“Arguing they [tax avoidance schemes] are legal doesn’t make them right. They go against the very nature of corporate social responsibility,” he concluded.

Other proposals from the EC include a taxpayers’ code, an EU tax identification number, a review of the anti-abuse provisions in relevant areas of EU legislation, and common guidelines to trace money flows.

Corporate tax partner at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner Gary Richards said: “It is interesting that days before the UK draft legislation on a general anti-abuse rule is published, the EU issues a recommendation that member states adopt a common GAAR, so keeping up the pressure on governments to harmonise their tax system.

“However, the EC’s intentions may well be undermined by governments’ wariness about compromising their tax sovereignty or losing their ability to fine-tune their own tax regimes and influence tax competitiveness.”

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