17 states have ended up on the so-called “blacklist of tax swamps”. According to rumour, yesterday it was still 25 countries, then 20 and today just 17 remain. Behind the scenes there was tough lobbying so that certain countries wouldn’t be listed. Not a single one of the overseas territories of Great Britain, such as the Isle of Man or British Virgin Islands, ended up being blacklisted. States such as Panama, Bermuda or Switzerland are also sought there in vain. There is also an ominous second list of 47 states that promise change on the horizon and want to close tax loopholes. They were then kindly not included on the blacklist but only on a grey list and as from now are under observation.

But who is monitoring the progress of the countries on the grey list promising improvement and from what point must political consequences be drawn? We cannot and should not allow ourselves a year of inaction. And what hard sanctions await the 17 states on the blacklist is also still completely open. The member states do not yet seem to have reached an agreement. We therefore only have a softened blacklist.

Oxfam shows how to do it differently: a transparent process that was documented in a study and shows that 35 states such as Bermuda, Switzerland or Hong Kong must be included on the list. Oxfam even went further and illuminated the EU member states, reaching the conclusion that even Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands must be on the list. We should follow this example.

In Austria we will also have to launch the discussion about whether our government is taking its fight against tax evasion seriously. Money laundering directive? Tax transparency for transnational major corporations? A Europe-wide corporate tax that puts a stop to tax competition between member states? The ÖVP, representative of Austria, apparently does not need or want this – it is therefore blocked in the council in Austria and progress in the fight against tax quagmires is halted. When Sebastian Kurz speaks of a “time for new justice” he therefore means: tax evasions of 1.5 billion euros are easily affordable in Austria. Because what is then missing we can get back through social, education and pension cuts.

We the Green Party can and will not accept that without vociferous resistance. Especially not when Austria takes over the EU council presidency in 2018 and should then rather solve the blockades for tax dumping than be part of the blockade themselves.

 

Posted by Michel Reimon