EU finance ministers to discuss how to make tax policy more evenhanded

Tue Sep 6, 2016 9:01am EDT
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By Jan Strupczewski and Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union countries should better coordinate tax rules to avoid hitting corporations too hard, the Slovak presidency of the European Union proposed, in an effort to provide more balance to an EU campaign against tax avoidance by multinational companies.

The proposal, to be discussed at an informal meeting of EU finance ministers in Bratislava on Sept. 10, comes as the EU cracks down on corporate tax-avoidance schemes, which some fear could backfire and drive multinationals away from the continent.

The Slovak proposal aims mostly to reduce cases of double taxation for multinational companies and to make taxation more predictable for corporations.

Slovakia, which took over the six-month rotating EU presidency in July, praised EU efforts to fight tax dodging. But it called for an approach "that supports the EU's attractiveness as a place for business, investment," according to a paper seen by Reuters.

The document calls on the EU finance ministers to discuss measures to enhance tax certainty. Those would include "further cross-border harmonization of tax rules" and more cooperation among national tax administrations.

Last week, the European Commission told Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) to pay up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in back taxes to Ireland to compensate for a scheme that has cut the iPhone maker's tax bill to next to nothing over a decade.

Dublin appealed the ruling on the grounds it would undermine Ireland's long-established policy of attracting multinationals with low taxes.

Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, said the company's overseas profits would be taxed in the United States when the money was repatriated. And U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the EU was trying to grab revenue that ought to go to the United States.   Continued...

A 3D printed Apple logo is seen in front of a displayed European Union flag in this illustration taken September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration