UK lobbied against EU 'blacklist' of tax havens - report

Posted On: 
31st January 2016

The UK has been opposing a European Union bid to impose sanctions on tax havens like Bermuda, where Google channels its overseas profits.

The Observer revealed the Treasury had described as “misleading and deeply unhelpful” an EU ‘blacklist’ designed to take action against tax havens, including Bermuda.

The Government also opposed taking countermeasures against these havens, as had been proposed by the European Commission last summer.

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A note from the Treasury for Conservative MEPs read: “The UK has taken up with the Commission that this list is misleading and deeply unhelpful.

“The communication also suggests that the commission might coordinate member state blacklists and a range of countermeasures. The UK is strongly opposed to this. It would extend competence and not provide a proportionate, tailored response to improve global tax transparency.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell claimed it proved ministers were “hypocrites”.

“The mask has finally slipped. The Tories have been saying they want to clamp down on tax avoidance to the British people, but when they think our backs are turned they are telling their MEPs to oppose any measures to make it happen,” he told the newspaper.

“The truth is they run a ‘don’t know, don’t care’ approach to tax avoidance.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “It is simply wrong to suggest the UK is anything other than at the international forefront of tackling aggressive ‎tax planning, avoidance and evasion.”

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times has found that six out of the largest ten biggest multinationals – including Shell, British American Tobacco, Lloyds Banking Group, SABMiller, AstraZeneca – paid no corporation tax in the last year.