World Economy

EU Shuts Down Belgium Tax Breaks for Multinationals

EU Shuts Down Belgium Tax Breaks for MultinationalsEU Shuts Down Belgium Tax Breaks for Multinationals

The EU on Monday closed a major tax break that Belgium offered to dozens of multinationals, including AB InBev, and ordered the companies to return $762 million (€700 million) in unpaid taxes.

In the latest Brussels crackdown on tax avoidance, it ruled that the benefit to some 35 multinational companies was illegal and breached the European Union's rules on state aid to companies, AFP reported. It comes in the wake of the "Luxleaks" scandal, which revealed details of tax breaks given to dozens of major firms in Luxembourg when current European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker was prime minister.

"Belgium has given a select number of multinationals substantial tax advantages that break EU state aid rules. It distorts competition on the merits by putting smaller competitors who are not multinational on an unequal footing," competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference.

She did not name the companies but sources familiar with the case said they included oil giant BP, chemical company BASF and Stella Artois brewer AB InBev, which is undergoing a $121-billion buyout of rival SABMiller.