Nick Shaxson ■ A short FAQ on the European Parliament’s probe into tax rulings
We have just mentioned a demonstration today in Luxembourg, in the context of a visit there by the European Parliament committee tasked with following up on the LuxLeaks affair. (It’s known as “The Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Effect” or TAXE for short.) Christian Hallum of Eurodad has now kindly provided, via email, a report on what this body is and how it works.
What has the committee done so far?
The committee has so far sent out a number of information requests to the Commission and Member States, has commissioned a number of research briefings that will be finished soon, has held a number of public hearings, and will be visiting a number of countries in the coming month.
Which countries are being visited, and when?
The schedule for visiting member states is:
- Belgium: 12 May
- Luxembourg: 18 May
- Switzerland: 22 May
- Ireland: 28 May
- Netherlands: 29 May
- UK: 18 June
How can you follow the work of the committee?
Many of the background documents from the hearings and country visits are publicly available for download at MEP Sven Giegold’s website here, and more will hopefully be added. You can also stream the hearings at the TAXE website, which also has a number of resources (agendas, background documents, press releases etc.) There is plenty of material on that website.
Who sits on the committee?
This page contains a list of the MEPs who sit on the TAXE committee. Most members are very open to receive inputs and ideas for the committee — so please get in contact with them if you want the committee to look into certain things, or you want to suggest certain focus areas ahead of hearings.
For how long will the committee be working?
The original mandate of the committee was 6 months, but it is widely expected that it will be extended towards the end of the year, and perhaps longer.
When are the next upcoming hearings and events?
Please find the details on the Taxe website.
What will be the outcome of the committee?
Apart from uncovering new information, the committee will be drafting a report of recommendations and findings which the members of the committee will have to vote on, tentatively scheduled for end of September. The findings will inform another report on international taxation that the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee is leading on – that report will contain legislative proposals for the Commission to consider.
How well has the committee worked so far?
The committee is turning out to be a useful forum for discussing the serious challenges that the EU faces in fixing its tax systems. The challenges and their solutions are no less relevant for developing countries, so the committee presents a real opportunity to promote tax justice. Yet some are visibly uncomfortable with seeing a strong committee discuss tax. Few of the detractors have been so openly against the committee as the European member states themselves. As the EU Observer reports
“With few exceptions, finance ministers from all member states have either refused or not responded to invitations from the committee to speak about their tax systems. Only Estonia has so far confirmed.”
Information requests sent to the Council have also gone unanswered, according to the same article. It is essential that member states and others immediately stop blocking the important work of the committee so solutions can be found to the mess that is cross-border tax.