Tribune. MEPs are going to adopt a directive on tax transparency for large multinational companies, the content of which has been so weakened that it will not meet its objective: to reveal the schemes of tax evasion. It is a huge disappointment for our organizations committed to tax justice.
Moreover, it is a real missed opportunity to fight against the practices of tax evasion of the large groups, which deprive the States of crucial resources to fight against the inequalities and the climatic disturbances. France has a strong responsibility in this failure, by adopting without qualification the positions of the lobbies of the private sector.
The tax transparency of multinationals, thanks to “public country-by-country reporting”, is nevertheless a simple and essential measure in the fight against tax evasion. By forcing large groups to publish basic information on their activities and the taxes they pay in each of the countries where they operate, as banks already do, this measure should make it possible to verify that the taxes paid correspond to activities realities and identify tax evasion schemes.
No change for multinationals
Unfortunately, the directive currently being adopted provides that companies will only have to declare their activities within countries of the European Union and countries listed as tax havens. This geographical restriction completely destroys the measure: more than three quarters of the countries of the world will not be covered. This while a single subsidiary in a tax haven is enough to evade tax, and the European list of tax havens is failing.
Multinationals will therefore be able to continue and adapt their arrangements in complete opacity to avoid tax. Citizens, especially in developing countries, which are more victims of tax evasion by foreign multinationals, will still not have access to information.
In addition, continuing to unravel this directive, which only has “public country-by-country reporting” in name, negotiators have added a loophole that will allow companies not to disclose information for five years if they consider it to be. “Commercially sensitive”.
The fight for tax transparency continues
The information published in the context of public reporting is not sensitive information: very large companies, those affected by the directive, already have this information on their competitors. Such a decline, in the name of competitiveness – an argument rehashed and hackneyed by certain multinational companies, however implicated in successive tax evasion scandals, is unacceptable.
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Tax evasion: “Multinationals will be able to continue their arrangements in complete opacity to avoid tax”