This week EU Finance ministers came out with a list of countries it thinks don’t measure up to its definition of good tax behaviour.
There are two categories: blacklist and so-called “grey list”. Black is bad and grey is heading toward good, but not yet there. Switzerland is on the “grey list”.
To stay off the list, countries must have fair tax rules, which are defined as not offering preferential measures or arrangements that enable companies to move profits to avoid levies, combined with sufficient transparency.
Numerous countries avoided classification. EU member countries were excluded. If they had been Oxfam reckons Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Malta would have been on the list.
Eight Caribbean countries, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, were excluded because they are dealing with hurricane clean up. Oxfam reckons most of these countries qualify for the list.
The 17 countries on the black list include: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, St Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia and the UAE.
Countries on the “grey list” include: Switzerland, Turkey and Hong Kong.
Switzerland is listed under nations with “harmful tax regimes” committed to amending or abolishing the problem elements by 2018.
Because the list comes with no sanctions, critics say it will have little effect. According to the FT, Sven Giegold, a member of the european parliament, said “As long as the Council cannot agree on common sanctions against listed tax havens, the blacklist will be toothless.”
EU press release (in English)