European Commission publishes tax screening “Scoreboard” of third country jurisdictions, including Bermuda, Cayman, BVI, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man

On 14 September 2016, the European Commission’s Taxation and Customs Union Directorate General, completed the first step of a new EU listing process, whereby it published a ‘Scoreboard’ of third country jurisdictions for tax transparency and cooperation purposes, including BOTs and Crown Dependencies such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the BVI, Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man.

The Scoreboard purportedly presents the results of a “thorough” pre-analysis carried out by the European Commission, under which certain third country jurisdictions were examined against “objective” economic, financial, stability and tax good governance indicators.

The European Commission’s Scoreboard is apparently intended as a first basis for EU Member States in the “Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation” to decide which third country jurisdictions may be relevant to be screened in more detail.

Curiously, the European Commission claims that the Scoreboard is not intended to represent any “judgement” about third country jurisdictions, while also claiming to be an  “objective and robust data source” designed to help Member States in the next steps of the common EU listing process.

However, the European Commission’s Press Release dated 15 September 2016 explains its intentions rather more candidly:

The European Commission is forging ahead with work to draw up a first common EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions by presenting a pre-assessment (‘scoreboard of indicators’) of all third countries according to key indicators.

It is now for EU Member States to choose which countries should be screened more fully over the next months so as to accurately pinpoint the countries which do not play by the rules when it comes to taxation.

In January 2016, the Commission launched a three-step process for establishing the common EU list as part of its broader agenda to curb tax evasion and avoidance. A common EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions will carry much more weight than the current patchwork of national lists when dealing with non-EU countries that refuse to comply with international tax good governance standards. An EU list will also prevent aggressive tax planners from abusing mismatches between the different national systems.

The aim is to publish the definitive list of non-cooperative jurisdictions by the end of 2017. Member States have already given their backing to this approach, which is also strongly supported by the European Parliament.”

 

The European Commission’s Scoreboard and explanatory notes are available here: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/sites/taxation/files/2016-09-15_scoreboard-indicators.pdf

There are also some additional Q&As published by New Europe.

The story is well covered by the Guardian newspaper and by the Financial Times, amongst other international media. I particularly like the title of the FT’s story, with its ironic homage to the work of Rene Magritte: “Ceci n’est pas une blacklist“.

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