EU wants big companies to reveal national tax bills

Thu May 23, 2013 7:57am EDT
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By John O'Donnell

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe's top regulatory official is seeking to force large companies to disclose how much tax they pay in each country where they operate, a measure some politicians say could curb tax avoidance.

Michel Barnier, the European commissioner in charge of drafting business regulation, said in a speech in Amsterdam that rules which will force banks to report their profits, taxes and subsidies by country from 2015 should be extended to cover other companies.

"We will expand these reporting obligations to large companies and groups," he said on Thursday.

Corporate tax avoidance has become a big international political issue over the last year and was given new impetus this week by a U.S. Senate report into Apple Inc.

The report said Apple, a multinational business, paid little or no tax on tens of billions of dollars in profits channeled through Irish subsidiaries that were tax resident in no country.

The extent to which Apple had avoided taxes had not been made public because companies do not have to report revenues, profits or taxes on a national basis.

Apple said it pays all the tax due in every country where it operates.

Tax campaigners, who have been emboldened by public anger at media reports of widespread corporate tax avoidance at a time of austerity, say naming and shaming low tax payers will deter avoidance.   Continued...

Apple Operations International, a subsidiary of Apple Inc, is seen in Hollyhill, Cork, in the south of Ireland in this October 6, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Michael MacSweeney/files