Thursday, October 22, 2015

"Multinationals seek cover as EU begins tax avoidance battle"

Tax avoidance is going to be in the headlines for a while, especially as fine corporate citizens Google and Apple scramble to continue the dodge. And we haven't even started the really big process outlined in Oct. 9's "The Beps process is the most significant development ever in the history of international tax rules".

From the Financial Times, which is probably the go-to for the nonce, a cottage industry of articles. 
First up, the headline story, Oct. 21:
Starbucks and Fiat took the heat on Wednesday. Now thousands of other multinationals doing business in Europe are asking a similar question: Will they, too, be caught up in a far-reaching Brussels crackdown on tax avoidance? 
Much will depend on Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, who on Wednesday declared that the companies’ highly-advantageous tax agreements with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, respectively, amounted to illegal forms of state aid. 
Ms Vestager’s ruling will require Starbucks and Fiat each to make up to €30m in tax repayments on the grounds they had received “selective” benefits from the tax deals. 
“Paying one’s fair share of tax should be firmly integrated in a company’s corporate social responsibility,” said Ms Vestager, a Dane, warning that she expected tax rulings to be done “by the book”. 
The commission is already well advanced in investigations into Apple’s tax treatment in Ireland, Amazon’s in Luxembourg and a Belgian tax scheme used by other companies. In an ominous statement, it said it “continues to pursue its inquiry into tax rulings practices in all EU member states”. 
Tax advisers warn that Ms Vestager’s judgment will have big implications for large numbers of companies that relied on similar tax rulings from EU governments. Often known as “comfort letters”, the rulings are meant to assure companies about the legality of particular tax arrangements — but may no longer be so reassuring. 
“The general feeling is [the commission] will very much expand these procedures,” said Marc Sanders, partner at Taxand Netherlands, tax advisers....MORE
Earlier Wednesday the headline was:
Starbucks and Fiat told to pay up to €30m in tax after EU ruling
While on the 19th we were warned:
Starbucks and Fiat face repaying millions of euros in tax
According to some sources Apple has avoided $60 Billion in U.S. taxes and the OECD is looking for $240 Billion per year.