MEPs call for a redistributive EU tax policy
At a special GUE/NGL-organised conference in the European Parliament today, MEPs have set out the case for a redistributive tax policy, calling for political will at both national and European level to tackle the 1 trillion euros lost each year as a result of tax avoidance and tax evasion.
EP Vice-President Dimitrios Papadimoulis, said: “Tackling fraud and tax evasion is undoubtedly a social justice issue. We need a new, socially equitable and progressive taxation policy with clear targets and a redistributive role. Our top priorities are shifting the tax burden from labour and commodities to wealth, high incomes and net profits, prohibiting offshore companies and tax havens in the EU, and establishing a minimum rate of corporation tax.”
“Tax policy is one of the weakest links in the EU and the LuxLeaks scandal is just one example of how a lack of harmonisation has fostered a culture of organised tax dumping,” commented MEP Marisa Matias, coordinator for the group on Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee (ECON).
She continued: “This has reduced capital income's contribution to public accounts, overwhelming the majority of the population who is forced to pay for these privileges. At the same time, the redistributive character of tax systems has been undermined, both by the growing reliance on indirect taxation and by the changes in direct income taxation. A debate on tax policy is needed in the EU in order to make tax policy a driver of equality, instead of inequality.”
At the conference a variety of speakers shared their experiences, including whistle-blower Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of the Swiss bank Julius Bär. Elmer spoke of the urgent need to protect whistle-blowers who make tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering known to the wider public and how he has seen with his own eyes the very real human impact of tax evasion.
Elmer said: “I have personally been in locations where the assets are hidden. I have counted and protected the assets of rich individuals, financial institutions and large multinationals in those secret jurisdictions. I know where the missing funds are that could finance education, health, infrastructure and pensions. I have experienced how a Swiss bank and the Swiss judicial system use psychological terror to go after a whistle-blower and his family in order to protect the tax dodging industry.”
MEP Fabio de Masi, a member of Parliament's new special committee on tax fraud, said: “We demand adequate protection for whistle-blowers. We need a system put in place that would allow whistle-blowers to safely provide information to Parliament's special committee on tax avoidance.”
De Masi continued: “We need real transparency via public access to information exchanges on tax rulings and country-by-country reporting. GUE/NGL also calls for effective measures to combat tax dumping such as revoking the business licence of banks that repeatedly aid tax fraud and the termination of double taxation agreements with tax havens to tax profits at their source.”
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