UK must not resile from EU laws on greater tax transparency, warn Labour MEPs

Labour MEPs have warned that Britain must continue to enforce EU anti-tax dodging laws in any post-Brexit settlement, following today’s announcement by the European Commission of new measures to enhance transparency in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.

The main proposals include: better connecting anti-money laundering rules with anti-tax avoidance rules; improving information exchange on beneficial ownership; increasing oversight of the enablers and promoters of aggressive tax planning; promoting higher tax good governance standards worldwide; and improving the protection of whistleblowers.

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

“When we think about Britain’s post-EU future, we have to make absolutely sure that major advances like these in the fight against tax avoidance are not lost. The government should guarantee that, whatever the final shape of our relationship with the EU, the UK continues to uphold the very high standards set by the EU when it comes to fighting for tax justice.

“Today is a good day in the fight for tax justice. This is real progress, and shows once again that the EU is leading the way in the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. These are cross-border problems that require cross-border solutions in order to be fixed.

“For years now, Labour politicians in both the UK and Europe have been calling for more transparency when it comes to finding out who really owns our companies and trusts. It is only by having that information that we can stop people from using opaque structures to avoid the tax they should rightly be paying.

“Now the European Commission is proposing that all information about beneficial ownership of companies should be public, and that information about trusts should be available to anyone who can demonstrate that they have a legitimate interest in finding out more.”

Tomorrow, Labour MEPs will vote for a report calling for further action to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, including a blacklist of tax havens, investigations into the roles of banks and tax advisers, and greater international cooperation.