UPDATE 1-Britain, France and Germany back multinational tax clampdown

Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:52am EST
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* UK, Germany and France back reform of international tax regime

* OECD report highlights tax avoidance by multinationals

* Plan to focus on transfer pricing, tax-base erosion and e-commerce

MOSCOW, Feb 16 (Reuters) - The British, French and German governments launched a joint initiative on Saturday to crack down on tax avoidance by multinational companies that will be presented to a G20 finance leaders meeting in July.

The plan, unveiled by the three countries' finance ministers at a G20 meeting in Moscow, follows up on a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that many big firms country-hop to pay less tax.

The OECD highlighted a growing trend for multinationals to shift profits to countries where tax rates are lowest, and urged a sweeping overhaul of international tax rules to prevent this.

"This work is the basis of increased international cooperation to make sure our tax rules reflect our international economy," British finance minister George Osborne said.

"Unbelievably our tax rules were created a hundred years ago by the League of Nations, and much has happened to our international economy since then."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the trio would examine ways to close loopholes that made it too easy for companies to decide where they paid taxes, particularly on "mobile income" such as interest, dividends and royalties.   Continued...