Semeta Says Some EU Nations Make It Too Easy To Avoid Tax

EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said some European Union nations have made it too easy for companies to avoid taxes by shifting income to countries outside the 27-nation bloc.

“Some member states have fairly loose or relatively liberal double-taxation agreements with third countries,” Semeta said in a Brussels speech today to the Friends of Europe group. “These very loose agreements actually allow aggressive tax planners to shift their profits through EU member states to third countries and to avoid taxation in general.”

Semeta said he’s not calling for an end to tax competition among EU members. At the same time, he said countries should not create “specific incentives to foreign companies or wealthy individuals” who want to escape taxes.

Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria are EU nations that have been criticized for their policies by campaigners amid a new wave of concern over “aggressive” tax planning. Apple Inc. has recently drawn the ire of U.S. politicians concerned it is avoiding too many taxes by shifting income to an Irish affiliate.

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