End Secrecy!

Following one shocking corporate tax scandal after the other, the European Commission is finally discussing a proposal to make multinational corporations publish basic information about where they make profits and what they are paying in taxes – so-called country by country reporting. This move, which would allow parliamentarians, journalists, tax administrations and citizens around the world to see the truth, would be a crucial first step towards making all corporations pay their fair share.

However, leaked documents show that the draft proposal currently on the table would only oblige companies to publish information from EU countries, while data from tax havens outside the union would not be identifiable. This would render the information meaningless as companies would be able to continue avoiding taxes by shifting its profits out of the EU and citizens would still be left in the dark. In addition, the leaked proposal would only cover companies with a turnover of more than 750 million euros, which would mean that 85-90% of the world’s multinational corporations would not have to report anything at all.

 

 

Tweet or email the Commissioners to make sure they put forward a proposal that is fit for purpose – see our suggested tweets below!

When multinational corporations and wealthy individuals don’t pay their fair share of tax, it hurts us all. The hardest impacts are felt in the poorest countries, but all across the world, ordinary citizens have to deal with increasing inequality, painful austerity measures and loss of public services. Transparency would instead lead to a number of important benefits – including better conditions for small and medium enterprises, jobs, and financial resources to support public services and sustainable development. Here’s a list of 10 reasons why country by country reporting is a good idea. That’s why many have already expressed their strong support.

 

Now let’s make sure we get the support of the Commissioners too – tweet or email them today!

Commissioners

Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker holds a powerful position as President of the European Commission. In late 2014, the LuxLeaks scandal revealed secret 'sweetheart deals' between Luxembourg and more than 300 multinational corporations. These deals allowed the companies to lower their tax rates to very low levels, in some cases to less than 1%. As former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Mr Juncker has received many questions about his role in relation to the scandal. By supporting the right of the public to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they are doing their business, Mr Juncker can start showing the sceptics that he is serious about fighting corporate tax avoidance.

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Pierre Moscovici

Commissioner Moscovici has announced that he is personally in favour of letting the public see what multinational corporations pay in taxes, and where they do business (public country by country reporting). Mr Moscovici is in charge of improving the functioning of the internal market and fighting tax fraud and evasion. Transparency around what multinational corporations pay in taxes and where they do business would be an important step towards making multinational corporations pay their fair share. A transparent and well-functioning internal market will mean that small and medium enterprises will not have to compete with large multinational corporations that exploit transnational legal structures to avoid taxes.

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Frans Timmermans

First Vice-President Timmermans' portfolio includes a coordinating role on the issue of transparency as well as sustainable development. By supporting the right of the public to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, Mr Timmermans can show leadership on transparency and at the same take an important step towards making multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes. This would in turn help to mobilise billions in extra financing toward sustainable development.

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Jonathan Hill

Commissioner Hill is in charge of ensuring that financial markets are properly regulated and supervised so that they are stable, competitive, transparent and promote jobs and growth. Tax dodging by multinational corporations creates instability for both investors and the financial system as a whole, not least because tax dodging corporations face the constant risk of being exposed and forced to pay a higher amount of taxes. The fact that corporate profits are channelled to tax havens instead of benefiting the financial system is also a significant risk factor. By supporting investors', as well as the broader public's, right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, Mr Hill can promote stable, competitive and transparent financial markets, which promote jobs and growth. Big banks are already obliged to publish information about what they are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, and several banks have now announced their support for this measure (see below).

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Valdis Dombrovskis

Vice-President Dombrovskis is in charge of economic and financial affairs in the EU, including the Economic and Monetary Union and the promotion of social dialogue. Considering that conservative estimates say that €50 to 70 billion are lost every year due to corporate tax avoidance in the EU alone, Mr Dombrovskis can make a very important contribution to the improvement of the economic and financial situation in the EU by supporting full transparency around what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be a very important first step towards ensuring that multinational corporations start paying their fair share.

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Margrethe Vestager

Commissioner Vestager has announced that she is personally in favour of letting the public see where multinational corporations do business and where they pay taxes, on a country by country basis (public country by country reporting). Ms Vestager is in charge of competition issues and has led several investigations, which concluded that multinational corporations were not paying enough taxes and that the Member States providing tax dodging opportunities for these companies were thus in breach of EU State Aid law. However, these cases only scratch the surface of a much wider problem of corporate tax avoidance, and creating transparency around what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, would be an important tool in the fight for fair competition between companies operating in the EU.

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Jyrki Katainen

Vice-President Katainen is in charge of creating more jobs, growth and investment in Europe. As long as multinational corporations are able to dodge taxes through transnational legal structures, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will continue to be at a disadvantage. Considering that SMEs are the backbone of the economy, and provide two-thirds of the employment in the EU, it should be a priority for Mr Katainen to level the playing field by making sure multinationals pay their fair share of taxes. Ensuring public access to information about what multinational corporations pay in tax and where they do business would be a first crucial step towards this goal.

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Kristalina Georgieva

Vice-president Georgieva is in charge of managing the EU budget. Considering that conservative estimates say that EUR 50 to 70 billion are lost every year due to corporate tax avoidance in the EU alone, Ms Georgieva can make an important contribution to achieving budgetary balance in the EU by supporting full transparency around what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be a very important first step towards ensuring that multinational corporations start paying their fair share.

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Vera Jourova

Commissioner Jourová is in charge of fighting discrimination and promoting gender equality in the EU. As public funds are lost through tax dodging by multinational corporations, many governments are introducing austerity policies, which often impact women harder than men. At the same time the tax pressure increases on other actors in the economy, including consumers, who pay taxes through value added tax (VAT). Since consumption taxes generally fall more heavily on women, tax dodging by multinational corporations can undermine the fight for gender equality. Therefore, Ms Jourová can make an important contribution to gender equality by supporting the public's right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be an important first step to make sure everyone pays their fair share.

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Neven Mimica

Commissioner Mimica works to ensure the EU delivers on its global commitments for development and poverty eradication. Today, one of the key challenges for developing countries is how to raise more domestic resources to fund their development. Their efforts are hampered by the fact that developing countries are currently losing at least EUR 100 billion per year due to tax avoidance by multinational corporations, which include companies with links to the EU. By supporting that the public, including citizens and tax administrations in developing countries, should have access toinformation about what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, Mr Mimica can take an important step towards ensuring that multinational corporations stop shifting profits from poor countries to tax havens.

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Federica Mogherini

As the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Mogherini is the external face of the EU. After numerous scandals where multinational corporations have managed to avoid taxes by setting up tax structures in EU countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the EU's international image is starting to fade. By supporting EU rules that ensure full transparency around what multinational corporations actually pay in tax, Ms Mogherini can strengthen the EU's international image and at the same time help make multinational corporations pay their fair share of tax.

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Miguel Arias Canete

Commissioner Canete is in charge of implementing the EU's climate framework and making the Union a world leader on renewable energy. Climate finance will be key to ensuring success in these areas. Considering that conservative estimates say that EUR 50 to 70 billion are lost every year due to corporate tax avoidance in the EU alone, Mr Canete can make an important contribution towards mobilising the necessary climate finance by supporting full transparency around what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be a very important first step towards ensuring that multinational corporations start paying their fair share.

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Karmenu Vella

Commissioner Vella is in charge of the environment, preservation of our natural resources and the conservation of our marine biological resources. Availability of finance to ensure protection and sustainable use of biological and natural resources will be key to success in this area. Considering that conservative estimates say that EUR 50 to 70 billion are lost every year due to corporate tax avoidance in the EU alone, Mr Vella can make an important contribution towards mobilising the necessary funding to safeguard the environment by supporting full transparency around what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be a very important first step towards ensuring that multinational corporations start paying their fair share.

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Elzbieta Bienkowska

Commissioner Bienkowska works to improve the business environment in the EU, including support of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Currently, SMEs are placed at a competitive disadvantage, as many multinational corporations use transnational legal structures to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Ms Bienkowska can help ensure fair competition for SMEs by supporting that they get the right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be an important first step towards making multinational corporations pay their fair share of tax.

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Maros Sefcovic

Vice-president Sefcovic is in charge of coordinating the achievements of the EU's energy targets for 2020 and 2030, including by mobilising investments in renewable energy and power grids. Considering that conservative estimates say that EUR 50 to 70 billion are lost every year due to corporate tax avoidance in the EU alone, Mr Sefcovic can make an important contribution towards mobilising the necessary climate finance by supporting full transparency around what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be a very important first step towards ensuring that multinational corporations start paying their fair share.

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Andrus Ansip

Vice-president Ansip is in charge of ensuring a connected digital single market in the EU and mobilising public and private investments for digital infrastructure. Allowing the public to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, will be key to ensuring that multinational corporations forming public private partnerships with EU governments are not engaging in aggressive tax planning and tax avoidance. Furthermore, in order to mobilise the necessary public financing for investments in the digital union, it will be key to ensure that multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Mr Ansip can contribute to this by supporting full transparency around the tax payments and business activities of multinational corporations.

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Cecilia Malmstrom

Commissioner Malmstrom is in charge of trade policy, and is responsible for ensuring that the trade agenda benefits citizens, SMEs and the broader economy. Ms Malmstrom is also in charge of the EU's strategic partnership with Africa and working with developing countries on trade issues. A central piece of this agenda will be the question of whether multinational corporations are paying their fair share of taxes in the countries where they do business, or instead engaging in aggressive tax planning and tax avoidance. By supporting public access to information about what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, Ms Malmstrom can help deliver a tool which will be key in assessing whether multinational corporations pay their fair share.

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Dimitris Avramopoulos

Commissioner Avramopoulos is in charge of migration, which might not at first appear to be an issue of relevance to corporate tax avoidance. However, as Commissioner Moscovici noted in a recent press conference, the financial loss due to corporate tax avoidance in Europe has been estimated to be EUR 50-70 billion per year, which equals "five times the amount of funds dedicated to the migrant crisis in 2015-2016". Thus, Mr Avramopoulos can make an important contribution to solving the refugee crisis by supporting the public's right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This will be an important first step towards ending corporate tax avoidance and making multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

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Marianne Thyssen

Commissioner Thyssen is in charge of employment, social protection and fighting inequality and poverty. Considering that conservative estimates say that EUR 50 to 70 billion are lost every year due to corporate tax avoidance in the EU alone, Thyssen can make an important contribution to the fight against poverty, inequality and towards ensuring social protection by supporting the right of the public to know what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be a very important first step towards ensuring that multinational corporations start paying their fair share, which would in turn also strengthen employment in both the public sector, which is fully dependent on tax income, as well as the private sector, where small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which provide 2/3 of the jobs in the EU, are currently forced to compete with multinational corporations that can use transnational legal structures to avoid paying their taxes.

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Christos Stylianides

Commissioner Stylianides is in charge of humanitarian aid and civil protection. Considering that conservative estimates say that EUR 50 to 70 billion are lost every year due to corporate tax avoidance in the EU alone, Mr Stylianides can make an important contribution towards mobilising the necessary financial resources for humanitarian aid and civil protection by supporting full transparency around what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business. This would be a very important first step towards ensuring that multinational corporations start paying their fair share.

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Johannes Hahn

Commissioner Hahn is a member of the College of Commissioners that will decide on whether or not the European Commission supports that the public should have a right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, through public country by country reporting on April 12.

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Tibor Navravcsics

Commissioner Navracsics is a member of the College of Commissioners that will decide on whether or not the European Commission supports that the public should have a right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, through public country by country reporting on April 12.

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Corina Cretu

Commissioner Cretu is a member of the College of Commissioners that will decide on whether or not the European Commission supports that the public should have a right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, through public country by country reporting on April 12.

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Carlos Moedas

Commissioner Moedas is a member of the College of Commissioners that will decide on whether or not the European Commission supports that the public should have a right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, through public country by country reporting on April 12.

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Violeta Bulc

Commissioner Bulc is a member of the College of Commissioners that will decide on whether or not the European Commission supports that the public should have a right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, through public country by country reporting on April 12.

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Phil Hogan

Commissioner Hogan is a member of the College of Commissioners that will decide on whether or not the European Commission supports that the public should have a right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, through public country by country reporting on April 12.

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Vytenis Andriukaitis

Commissioner Andriukatis is a member of the College of Commissioners that will decide on whether or not the European Commission supports that the public should have a right to see what multinational corporations are really paying in taxes, and where they do business, through public country by country reporting on April 12.

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Why public country by country reporting?

Many have already expressed strong support for public CBCR:

10 reasons why CBCR is a good idea

Since 2015, big banks in Europe have been obliged to report their profits and taxes on a country-by-country basis. See what they think:

 

The High-level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa, chaired by former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, highlighted that: 

We were encouraged by the emergence of discussions on country-by-country reporting of employees, profits, sales and taxes as a means of ensuring transparency in cross-border transactions. Country-by-country reporting, publically available, will help to show where substantial activity is taking place and the relative profits generated and taxes paid.

 

Taxes are collected nationally, which means country-by-country information is essential to know whether corporations are paying a fair amount to each country” – European Federation of Public Service Unions.

 

After assessing what public country by country reporting would mean for banks, the European Commission itself concluded that: “It is the assessment of the Commission, notably based on the results of the study and the views expressed by the stakeholders, that, at this stage, the public country-by-country reporting of information under Article 89 of Directive 2013/36/EU is not expected to have significant negative economic impact, in particular on competitiveness, investment, credit availability or the stability of the financial system. On the contrary, it seems that there could be some limited positive impact.” 

 

States should make country-by-country reports available to the public within 30 days of filing.”

Declaration of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate taxation.

Who we are

Eurodad (the European Network on Debt and Development) is a network of 46 civil society organisations (CSOs) from 20 European countries, which works for transformative yet specific changes to global and European policies, institutions, rules and structures to ensure a democratically controlled, environmentally sustainable financial and economic system that works to eradicate poverty and ensure human rights for all.