EUROPEAN FINANCE MINISTERS updated the EU tax haven list on 4 October. The update includes the blacklisting of three additional countries (Anguilla, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos) because they have harmful tax regimes attracting profits without real economic activity.

Two countries were added to the greylist (Armenia and Eswatini) and two were removed from the greylist (Bermuda and Tunisia). The greylist includes countries that fail to fulfil at least one of the criteria but have committed to reform in the future.

Responding to the update, Chiara Putaturo, Oxfam EU’s tax expert, said: ”How can anyone give this list any credibility? Bermuda is one of the world’s worst tax havens with its zero corporate tax rate. Yet, the EU took it off the list after it made a few woolly promises to reform. To add insult to injury, major European tax havens like Luxembourg are not on the list because all EU countries receive an automatic free pass.

“This is not a blacklist, it is a whitewash. Two years have passed since the EU agreed to strengthen the list and give it some teeth, but nothing has changed. The criteria remain woefully weak. While this list captured three zero-tax rate countries, it was not due to their tax rate, and they can easily be delisted again. The EU should automatically blacklist zero and low tax rate countries and hold European countries up to the same level of scrutiny as non-European countries. The current list makes the EU a hypocrite as major tax havens in Europe like Malta and Luxembourg escape the list while countries outside Europe like Eswatini and Botswana risk being blacklisted.

“Stronger criteria could stop the industrial levels of tax dodging by the world’s richest and corporates. Governments and ordinary people are facing the cost-of-living crisis. Ending tax havens could provide the much-needed hundreds of billions in revenue as the world’s super-rich would have to pay their fair share.”

* More information on the updating of the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes here.

* Read Oxfam’s December 2021 tax briefing on why and how the EU should reform its rules on tax havens here.

* Source: Oxfam International