Claims to be in favour of stamping out immoral tax practices were shown to be little more than lip service
On Wednesday, Conservative and UKIP MEPs voted against proposals in the European Parliament which were aimed at making the tax system fairer, including cracking down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
In its Annual Tax Report, the European Parliament proposed concrete measures to tackle immoral tax practices, including making companies report where they make their profits and where they pay their taxes. It also proposed an agreed Europe-wide definition of tax havens that would allow tax dodgers to be named and shamed.
The report was passed by a cross-party selection of MEPs by 444 votes to 110, with 41 abstensions.
Anneliese Dodds MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, and Socialists & Democrats Group co-rapporteur of the parliament’s legislative initiative report on tax avoidance, said:
“Yet again, the Tories and UKIP have shown whose side they are really on. They talk the talk about cracking down on tax fiddling, but when the time comes for action they vote in favour of more secrecy and more inequality.
“The proposals in the Annual Tax Report are about making society fairer, and giving small businesses a chance, about stopping the situation where a family-run business in the UK dutifully pays the right rate of corporation tax, while a large multinational corporation negotiates a sweetheart deal to reduce its tax rate to almost zero.
“It’s clear from today’s vote that the Tories and UKIP are once again on the side of vested interests against the interests of working people.”
The report recommends that the European Commission should prepare a blacklist, before July 2015, of tax havens and countries whose tax practices distort competition. It also suggests suspending or revoking the banking or advisory licences of accountants, law firms and other financial advisors convicted of tax fraud, and improving transparency around tax rulings which create opportunities for tax avoidance.
In November, deputy UKIP leader Paul Nuttall launched a strongly worded attack on the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker over the issue of tax avoidance.
“Now, let’s get to the rub of it. The definition of hypocrisy according in the Oxford English dictionary is the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more normal beliefs than is the case.
“And I don’t think anyone in this chamber could disagree with me today when I say this perfectly sums up the position of the President of the European Commission here today.
“Under his tenure Luxembourg was a “magical fairy land” for multinational corporations where tax rates were as little as one percent paid on profits.”
The accusations of hypocrisy from UKIP take on an interesting colour after Wednesday’s developments in Brussels.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.