European Union states agree on clamp-down on accountants helping…

The EU finance ministers (ECOFIN) agreed on a cluster of new rules meant to disrupt cross-border tax avoidance on Tuesday; the decision must now be ratified by the European Parliament.

Last week seven EU member states were signaled out for encouraging tax avoidance by the European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici: Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Malta, Cyprus, and Hungary.

The decision to clamp down on tax avoidance, first proposed by the European Commission in June 2017, was taken by EU economic and financial affairs ministers at their morning meeting in Brussels, according to a Commission press release.

Finance ministers also agreed to add Saint Kitts and Nevis, the US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas, to a blacklist of global tax havens, while removing Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia.

The Channel Islands, the Bahamas, Bahrain and the Cayman Islands are among the jurisdictions who have no corporate income tax. But their finance ministers gave the green light to the Bulgarian compromise. In turn, European Union member states will exchange this information with each other, further increasing scrutiny. If there is no intermediary involved, the onus will be on the company or individual using the tax scheme to disclose it.

Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda were added to the gray list on Tuesday. One such group was the Tax Justice Network, which said the original 17-jurisdiction list represented a missed opportunity to tackle the real issues it claimed lay behind the what it called the large-scale tax avoidance and tax evasion now "bleeding European Union countries dry".

Simultaneously, they moved Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia from the blacklist to the grey watch list, after they committed to change their tax practices.

The fluctuating blacklist will remain at nine jurisdictions, with the remaining six countries listed as Trinidad and Tobago, Samoa, American Samoa, Guam, Namibia and Palau.

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