EU Agrees to Share Information on Tax Rulings After Timing Spat

  • Nations to swap data on deals like those for Amazon, Apple
  • Luxembourg's Gramegna says tax rules send `very strong signal'

European Union nations agreed to share information on tax deals they offer to companies like Apple Inc. and Inc. after a last-minute clash over how far back the new rules should reach.

EU nations will automatically exchange tax ruling information starting in 2017 under the deal struck Tuesday by finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg. The new regulations, which had to be agreed on by all of the bloc’s 28 nations, are “sending a strong signal to the world” when it comes to the transparency of corporate tax breaks, Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna said at a press conference after the meeting.

Countries will share information among themselves, and in some cases with the European Commission. None of the information will be made public, EU Tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told reporters, adding that he was satisfied with the Brussels-based commission’s access to the data.

The deal came together after ministers hashed out a compromise on how the rules would be applied to small businesses and to pre-existing deals. Tax rulings that are still valid will be covered if they were put in place after Jan. 1, 2012, while expired tax breaks must be reported if they were issued or amended after Jan. 1, 2014.

Businesses with groupwide annual net turnover of less than 40 million euros ($45 million) may be exempt from retroactive information exchange for deals before Apr. 1, 2016. This exception doesn’t include firms or individuals that mainly conduct financial or investment activities, according to the text of the compromise.

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