EU plans for lawyers, bankers to register aggressive tax schemes
01 Mar 2018

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have backed a proposal for intermediaries promoting aggressive cross-border tax programmes to detail their schemes to the authorities in a crackdown on the practice.

The lawmakers on Thursday voted by 541 votes to 33 votes, with 61 abstentions, backing plans for such schemes to be registered in a central directory.

The information submitted would then be made automatically accessible to tax authorities in all the EU’s member states.

The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament, who backed the motion, said the measures would make lawyers, banks or counsellors accountable “for the schemes offered to their rich clients to cut down their tax bills.”

French socialist MEP Emmanuel Maurel said: “Today’s vote marks a victory over white-collar crime, the fraudsters, the profit hiding experts, and those who help them: the middlemen.

“There is a real industry in tax planning. These discrete companies must be accountable for the designs they produce, their advice, and what schemes they sell to their wealthy clients.”

Following major data leaks such as the Luxleaks and the Panama Papers, the EU said it was committed to addressing tax avoidance and evasion, including the issue of middlemen who promote tax dodging and money laundering schemes.

Parliament, which has set up special committees to look into the scandals and other financial crime matters, and has recently formed a third such committee called TAXE 3.

S&D Pervenche Berès spokesperson said: “After a series of tax scandals such as LuxLeaks, the Panama papers and the Paradise papers over the last 4 years, it became clear that tax advisors, whether they are accountants, auditors, lawyers or banks, had to be made accountable for their actions.

“It is unacceptable that a whistle-blower is facing justice because he has made public allegations on massive tax fraud, while those who have designed the tax schemes remain immune of any charge.”

Issues could be ‘set right’ if the proposals are adopted by EU finance ministers, Beres indicated.

Read more:

EU tax blacklist update: Agreement reached, EU to remove several countries

EU lawmakers call for investigation into Paradise Papers

EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive: Can banks handle it?

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