Cameron says he’s leading global fight against tax dodging, but will Tory MEPs finally back EU action?

Labour MEPs will vote tomorrow in favour of greater corporate transparency and tougher action on tax dodging – proposals Tory MEPs voted against in committee.

The vote comes as David Cameron hosts an anti-corruption summit in London, with the government claiming to have “led the way on tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance”, and established a public registry of company beneficial ownership information and “pushed its G7 and G20 partners to do the same”.

However, five times in the past 13 months, Conservative MEPs have voted against measures to tackle tax dodging, from public country-by-country reporting of tax affairs to a common list of tax havens to the shareholders rights directive to a clampdown on tax fraud, including aggressive tax planning.

Anneliese Dodds MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on tax, said:

“David Cameron told Prime Minister’s Questions today the government ‘has done more than any other government to ensure overseas territories are not tax havens, and behave in a responsible way’ and ‘would like them to go further’. Fine words, but will he now ensure his MEPs finally vote for action?

“Public country-by-country reporting – whereby companies report exactly where they make their money and where they pay their taxes – is vital in the fight against tax avoidance and tax evasion, even more so in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal. Will his MEPs vote for this greater transparency?

“Labour MEPs have been leading European Parliament action on the fight against tax dodging – just last month the European Commission adopted proposals from my report on tax avoidance. As for the Tories? Never mind reports and leadership, all they have to do is vote. Will they?”

Neena Gill MEP, member of the European Parliament special committee on tax, added:

“The Conservatives have been all talk when it comes to tackling tax avoidance – we’ve had pledges from the top of the Tory Party, and tough talk – but in the European Parliament, when they think no one’s looking, the Tories have voted against action.

“Do the Tories believe in the public and transparent mandatory automatic exchange of country-by-country reports between EU countries, or not? Do they believe information exchanged between various tax authorities should be publicly available?

“Tomorrow, Tory MEPs have an opportunity to vote for EU action against tax avoidance – will they take it?”