World Economy

Oxfam Wants Proper EU Action on Tax Havens

Oxfam Wants Proper EU Action on Tax HavensOxfam Wants Proper EU Action on Tax Havens

The EU will shortly publish a tax haven blacklist, part of a strategy to deal with the issue of global tax avoidance and evasion. The charity Oxfam has its doubts though, and has published a list of its own. No one wants their name to be on a list of noted undesirables, whether it’s for entry to a club or something else entirely.

That’s why, since the EU commission announced plans earlier this month to publish a tax haven blacklist in the wake of the Paradise Papers leaks, several governments have been scrambling to avoid what could be a damaging and embarrassing naming and shaming, DW reported.

Yet, there are those who think the final list—which is expected to be confirmed and released after being approved by EU finance ministers in early December—will be toothless as a result of political pressure.

Among the doubters is Oxfam. In a report published on Tuesday, the global charity confederation has assessed the tax collecting credentials of the 92 countries currently being assessed by the EU, as well as all 28 EU member states, which are not part of the EU’s review.

Claiming to use the same criteria as the EU, namely the examination of countries’ tax transparency systems and tax rates, the Oxfam report claims that a proper blacklist would have four EU member states—Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands—on it.

Out of the 92 non-EU countries and territories being assessed, Oxfam believes 35 of them should be included on the final EU blacklist. Among that number are several European countries, such as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Switzerland and Serbia.

It also includes Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula which is in fact, in the EU.

The report, titled ‘Blacklist or Whitewash?’, says that if the EU is to be consistent, it needs to include some of its own member states on the list but that the charity fears “political pressure will lead to a dilution of the criteria and thus to a useless list.”

“We expect the countries identified by us to appear on the actual list,” said Tobias Hauschild, one of Oxfam’s tax experts.

As well as being critical of the EU’s decision to exclude its own member states from assessment, Oxfam is especially critical of the policies of Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. Its report also calls for heavy sanctions and punitive measures against any countries named on the final blacklist.

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