Tax transparency on the way despite MEPs’ still bowing to big business

04 July 2017

The European Parliament has voted in favor of new tax transparency rules, but have allowed large companies to get away with a tax secrecy clause.

Reacting to the crucial vote on public country-by-country reporting, Oxfam’s EU Policy Advisor on tax, Aurore Chardonnet, said:

“The European Parliament’s vote is a small step towards greater tax transparency. But companies can still hide key tax information if they want to, due to a get-out clause.

Many EU parliamentarians seem to still prioritize large multinationals over citizens and SMEs, despite scandals such as Luxleaks and the Panama Papers. Hundreds of thousands of EU citizens want governments to demand companies to publicly declare where they do their business and where they pay their taxes.

It is now down to European member states not to block reforms, otherwise the tax system will remain skewed in the interests of profit and not people.”

Notes to editors: 
  • Oxfam campaigns for tax transparency because tax policies in Europe have effects in countries around the world, rich and poor alike. Companies must pay their fair share of tax so governments can provide essential services such as healthcare and education.
  • The legislation passed today – known as public country-by-country reporting – requires the biggest companies to publicly declare their earnings and taxes in all countries where they operate. However, it includes a “get out” clause allowing big companies to retain information if they declare the publication damaging for their own business.
  • The European Parliament has repeatedly called for greater transparency of multinational corporations’ activities. MEPs called for including requirements for public country-by-country reporting in the shareholder’s rights directive or in their report investigating the Luxleaks scandal.  The Parliament is also currently examining the Luxleaks and Panama Papers tax scandals in an investigating committee.
  • This vote represents the position of the European Parliament on a legislative proposal initiated by the Commission in April 2016. The Council is currently negotiating its own position and a trilogue should start after both institutions adopt their final position.
  • Earlier today, Oxfam together with other organizations defending tax transparency, organized an action in front of the European Parliament.
  • In March 2017, Oxfam published the report ‘Opening the Vaults’, analyzing public country-by-country reporting data in depth for the first time. The report showed that some of Europe’s largest banks report profits in tax havens that are well out of proportion to the level of real economic activity that occurs there.
  • Over 350,000 EU citizens have signed a petition, led by Oxfam, demanding action from their governments to require companies to publicly declare where they do their business and where they pay their taxes. 
Contact information: 

Contact: Florian Oel | florian.oel@oxfam.org | office +32 2 234 1115 | mobile +32 473 562260

For updates, please follow @Oxfam, or @OxfamEU.

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