Oxfam reaction to EU Finance Ministers’ debate on tax issues

Published: 15 November 2013

Today EU Finance Ministers discussed tax matters, including money laundering and automatic exchange of information between tax authorities.

Money laundering

In reaction, Catherine Olier, Oxfam’s EU policy advisor, said:

“We welcome the bold stance taken today by the UK and Denmark in favor of greater transparency as to who really owns companies. Making this information public will shine a light on the secretive world of shell companies, which only exist on paper - not in reality - and props up tax evasion.

Other governments should now be equally ambitious, but also call for an extension of this public disclosure to trusts and other secretive entities, not just for companies. Only by doing this, can we fully scrutinise tax dodgers and other criminals and stop them from hiding money which could be invaluable in funding essential services such as health and education here in Europe and the developing world.”

Automatic exchange of tax information 

In reaction, Catherine Olier, Oxfam’s EU policy advisor, said:

“It is shocking that just two countries, Luxembourg and Austria, managed to block once again greater transparency in European finance by side-lining the broadening of the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities. The proposal received overwhelming backing from other European leaders and its further delay by two self-serving governments is a condemning move in the fight against tax dodging.”

Facts & figures

The European Commission estimated that tax evasion and avoidance costs the EU €1 trillion each year.

In addition, Oxfam revealed that at least $18.5 trillion (€14 trillion) is hidden by wealthy individuals in tax havens worldwide. Two-thirds of this global offshore wealth – more than $12 trillion (€9.5 trillion) - is hidden in EU related tax havens. Tax havens in the EU or under its jurisdiction, such as Luxembourg, Andorra or Malta, are facilitating the loss of over $100 billion (€80 billion) in tax revenues worldwide. This money could fill vital gaps in the austerity budgets in Europe and pay for essential services such as health and education in the developing world. The broadening of automatic exchange of information between governments would help ensure that undeclared assets are properly taxed.

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