European Union agrees on new tax haven blacklist of 17 countries

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EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said this was less than the 20 countries he had hoped for but would be a "initial victory" if confirmed.

The blacklisted countries are accused of behaving like tax havens.

The list is a result of excessive screening of more third countries before the ministers made up their mind that these 17 non-EU countries will be blacklisted, while another 47 will be included in a separate gray list, to be monitored for their compliance with commitments undertaken. Moscovici said the European Union ministers would also approve a so-called grey list of about 60 countries comprising of jurisdictions with severe tax evasion issues, but who have made commitments to change their ways. "This list needs to be effective, meaning that it needs to allow us to impose sanctions so that those who don't respect rules will change their behavior".

The EU's ECOFIN Council released on December 5 its long-awaited blacklist of tax havens and provided for sanctions on these governments.

On the list going into the talks were also Barbados, Cape Verde, Grenada, Macao, Marshall Islands, Palau, Saint Lucia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, according to a draft seen by AFP.

Other measures that could be taken at a national level - but which will be at the discretion of each country - include withholding tax measures, non-deductibility of costs, and special documentation requirements.

The list was made on the basis of three main components: tax transparency, fair tax competition and implementation of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), which is a way of battling tax avoidance created by the OECD.

The clock is counting down: Now that tax reform bills have made their way through the House and Senate, Republicans in both chambers are working to iron out the differences between the two bills - with a goal of overhauling the usa tax system by December 22.

Countries in the EU's firing line have been given an opportunity to stay off the list if they provide a political commitment and a detailed plan to comply. Panama has been battered by document leaks, including the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, showing how the rich have stashed wealth in shell companies in Panama and other small nations. That means they promote unfair tax practices, or don't share important financial information with the EU. "If we want to fight tax avoidance credibly on a global stage, we must also put our own house in order", said socialist legislator Peter Simon.

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