Push for EU mandatory disclosure of tax avoidance schemes

Slovakia, the current president of the EU council, challenges finance ministers from all the EU member states to introduce mandatory disclosure rules for intermediaries including accountants who seek to profit from the promotion, design or implementation of tax avoidance schemes

The proposals were outlined in a ‘presidency issues’ note presented to an informal meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) held in the Slovak capital Bratislava at the weekend. The MDR would require accountants and other intermediaries to disclose such schemes to their local tax authority, which would subsequently exchange that information with other tax administrations.  It would be introduced via an amendment to the Directive on Administrative Co-operation (DAC).

The Slovak government briefing says that under its plans, minimum standards for the MDR would ensure disclosure of schemes designed to circumvent the common reporting standard (CRS)  for automatic exchanges of financial account information, or what it terms ‘passive offshore tax avoidance and evasion schemes’ (such as those used in the Panama Papers) based on identified ‘hallmarks’.

The briefing also suggested that there needed to be improvements in inter-agency cooperation domestically to tackle fiscal evasion and financial crimes, as well as a better international information exchange architecture, to allow faster and more effective cooperation with for enhanced cross-agency information sharing.

Speaking at the opening of the ECOFIN meeting, Jyrki Katainen, vice president of the European Commission, said the discussion was ‘timely’, noting: ‘It comes ahead of my colleague Pierre Moscovici's proposal later this autumn on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) which will help enormously to curb aggressive tax planning.

'New rules are needed to eliminate the mismatches and loopholes between national systems, which companies can currently exploit. What's clear is that with every new case of unfair tax practice or abuse, public frustration grows.’

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