Will Tory MEPs back new EU rules strengthening fight against tax dodging?

Labour MEPs have today joined shadow chancellor John McDonnell in calling on Tory MEPs to vote in favour of a report that strengthens rules in the fight against tax avoidance and evasion.

The report, which will be voted on by the European Parliament tomorrow, calls for the strongest possible measures to tackle tax dodging in the EU by preventing companies from artificially shifting profits to tax havens, and from setting up shell companies in order to avoid paying tax.

During Treasury Questions in Westminster today, John McDonnell stated that “if we are to tackle tax evasion and avoidance effectively we need to remain in the EU”, adding: “Will the chancellor join me in calling on all MEPs to support the new anti-tax avoidance directive being voted on in the European Parliament tomorrow?”

Treasury minister David Gauke refused to say if Tory MEPs would vote for the report, which they abstained on at committee stage.

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

“Five times Tory MEPs have voted against efforts to fight tax avoidance and evasion in the EU. During the past 18 months, they have continued to say one thing to the British public, while voting a completely different way in Strasbourg.

“Tomorrow, they will have a sixth chance to do the right thing and vote in favour of bringing the billions lost every year back to the exchequer. Each time they vote against these measures, it is another school or hospital going unbuilt, with the burden falling on those who can least afford it.

“If we are serious about tackling tax dodging, and ending the unfair situation where small family-run businesses pay their fair share while some large multinationals get off scot-free, then it is essential that we stay in the EU and work with our European partners.”