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MPs of Europe unite: Listen up big biz, air your tax deals in public

Tax doesn't have to be taxing, unless you're trying to avoid it

European MPs have signed an open letter that presses governments across the Continent to publish their complex tax agreements with multinational companies on a country-by-country basis.

The missive follows HMRC's £130m tax deal with Google on a decade’s worth of profits made in the UK over ten years. By way of contrast, French authorities are reportedly pursuing the ad giant for €1.6bn (£1.3bn) in tax they claimed was avoided by using the controversial cross-border mechanism.

The open letter was signed by the chairs of parliamentary finance committees in the UK, Germany, Hungary, Finland, Norway and Slovakia, as well as senior MPs in the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

In it, governments were urged to support moves for companies to reveal their revenue, profit, income paid and accrued, total employment, capital, and retained earnings in each jurisdiction they are based.

“We want to see this information published so that our citizens can see for themselves what tax multinationals pay so that not only will our national tax authorities see the full picture but so will our citizens,” the letter stated.

“Publication is one way to persuade these companies to explain their tax planning. It would deter them from using tax havens and shell companies.”

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“Businesses use complex strategies to minimise their tax bills and the lack of transparency over these arrangements does nothing to build confidence that corporations are paying their fair share.”

She noted the “public anger” at the Chocolate Factory and UK government’s historic - for all the wrong reasons - deal, and insisted PAC has pushed for “changes to the international rules that protect corporate taxpayer confidentiality."

The letter is published as MPs from nine parties in the UK Parliament back an amendment to the Government’s Finance Bill, tabled by PAC member Caroline Flint MP. ®

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