The European Union published its first list of international tax havens yesterday as part of a crackdown on multinational companies trying to avoid paying tax in the 28-nation bloc. The list of 30 territories includes Hong Kong and Brunei in Asia, Monaco, Andorra and Guernsey in Europe and a series of Caribbean havens including the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
The European Commission's (EC) proposals also include reforms to end sweetheart tax deals following a series of investigations into arrangements between EU countries and companies such as Amazon, Apple and Starbucks. "We are today publishing the top 30 non-cooperative jurisdictions consisting of those countries or territories that feature on at least 10 member states' blacklists," EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said at a press conference.
The former French finance minister said the publication of the blacklist was a "decisive step" that would "push non-cooperative non-EU jurisdictions to be more cooperative and adopt international standards."
The full list includes Andorra, Liechtenstein, Guernsey, Monaco, Mauritius, Liberia, Seychelles, Brunei, Hong Kong, Maldives, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat, Panama, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis and Caicos Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But critics say the publication of the list risks being seen as an attempt to distract from the EU's need to tackle its own issues with tax avoidance. Yesterday's tax proposals are a response to the so-called LuxLeaks scandal that exposed deals with the tiny EU state of Luxembourg that saved some of the world's largest companies, including Apple, IKEA and Pepsi, billions of dollars in taxes.
The dealings in Luxembourg have been particularly embarrassing for Jean-Claude Juncker, now the head of the EC, who was the small duchy's premier when the deals were made. The EU is also looking to build on existing probes into the tax dealings of Apple in Ireland, Starbucks in the Netherlands and Amazon and Fiat in Luxembourg. "Corporate taxation in the EU needs radical reform," Moscovici said as he unveiled the plan. "Member states need to pull together and everyone must pay their fair share."