Blacklist criteria a small victory, but tax havens can still escape

EU finance ministers today discussed the future "EU blacklist" for tax havens. The proposal says that a 0% tax rate will only be seen as an "indicator" that a particular country or a tax jurisdiction should be screened - but that further analysis will be required before they end up on any blacklist.

In reaction, Oxfam’s EU tax expert Aurore Chardonnet said:

“It's welcome that the EU now accepts that a 0% tax rate is potentially harmful, but it is more serious than simply being an ‘indicator’ that warrants investigation. A 0% tax rate is one of the most evident features of many tax havens.

“If EU member states are so timid not to immediately blacklist a 0% tax rate jurisdiction as an obvious ‘tax haven’, Oxfam is worried that the likes of Bermuda and Bahamas might slip through the net, even though they are frontrunners in a dangerous global race to the bottom on corporate tax.

“Tax havens help big business cheat countries and people out of the billions needed for essential services, fuelling inequality both in developed and developing countries.”

Notes to editors: 
  • In December 2016, Oxfam released the ‘Tax Battles’ report, Oxfam has shown that 0% jurisdictions like the Bahamas and Bermuda belong to the top 15 corporate tax havens. The report also exposes that four EU countries are among the world’s worst tax havens: The Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg and Cyprus.
  • In November 2016, EU finance ministers adopted conclusions on criteria for the screening of third-country jurisdictions for an EU blacklist; a process for selecting jurisdictions to be screened; and guidelines for the screening process. The final EU blacklist is expected to be published towards the end of 2017.
  • Tax havens offer companies a series of opportunities to pay a minimal amount of tax. These include: zero or extremely low corporate tax rates, high levels of financial secrecy, the provision of unfair and unproductive tax incentives, and a lack of effective rules to prevent profit shifting to other tax havens.
  • The “World Investment Report” of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that developing countries lose at least US$100 billion per year in corporate tax revenue due to tax dodging by large companies. This money could ensure that every one of the 121 million children globally who are currently out of school get an education and provide healthcare services across Africa that could save the lives of 4 million children.
Contact information: 

Florian Oel | Brussels | florian.oel@oxfaminternational.org | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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