Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tax Evasion: Ikea gets fucked – Liberation

The anti-avoidance offensive continues in Brussels and Strasbourg. Environmentalists MEPs denounce the “aggressive tax planning strategy ‘ Swedish Ikea, world number 1 of the furnishings, in an investigation report posted Friday. This report, which builds on previous work, including watch “how the Swedish multinational company is structured to evade taxes over a billion euros last six years at the expense of various European states “, as the elected representatives of the Greens-EFA group (ecologist liberal Alliance) in the European Parliament. “Ikea has basically used loopholes offered by the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg” , they wrote in a statement. A demonstration that the political group wanted as clearly as possible, presenting his report in the form of an assembly manual … Ikea.

The report described one of the preferred techniques of the group, by green MEPs: each store of the Swedish chain makes payment of royalties to a subsidiary based in the Netherlands, which only acts as a “conduit”. Royalties in and out of the Netherlands untaxed and result largely in Liechtenstein. “Just for the year 2014″ , the investigation report estimated “ tax losses of € 35 million for Germany, € 24 million for France and 7.5 million euros for Belgium . “

the elected officials sent a letter to Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, and Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for economic Affairs, in which they present their findings. They invite them to initiate a review procedure to verify the existence of a possible infringement of EU competition law.

Between 50 and 70 billion euros lack of earning

Meanwhile, Ikea denies any tax optimization. Questioned by AFP, the group responded by email that he was paying “taxes in accordance with national and international laws” . While welcoming “exchange” Europe “on harmonization of international tax system” , he recalled that during the fiscal year 2015, “Ikea paid taxes totaling more than 1.5 billion euros”. It is worth remembering also that in the same fiscal year, the world’s No. 1 Furniture recorded a turnover of 31.9 billion euros.

The European Commission has “note” report and the “is the study in detail “, promised his spokesman. Words of courtesy, but that echo the declaration of war by Pierre Moscovici, in late January. “The days are numbered for companies unfairly reduce their taxes on the backs of others” , he warned when presenting his plan against tax optimization multinationals. A recent study of the European Parliament, the shortfall would be between 50 and 70 billion euros per year, recalled Pierre Moscovici: “This is money taken in our hospitals, schools, transport and other vital public service. This is unacceptable and we are taking all necessary measures. “

If the fraud was denounced for years by numerous studies, it took the scandal burst into LuxLeaks November 2014, highlighting a large-scale tax evasion of multinational system, Gafa (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) in mind, to bring this European reaction. The first directive presented by Moscovici relates to the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities of the countries of the European Union on accounting data multinationals. These constraints will be detailing their results and their tax burden by country. In October 2015, the Commission had adopted by the 28 Member States the principle of the automatic exchange of information on tax agreements between states and multinationals. As for the second directive, it is simply taxing profits in the countries in lesquel they are generated. However, the issue of tax harmonization is avoided. What regrets Oxfam interviewed by Libération after the announcement of the European plan: “The fact that the negotiations on this anti-avoidance package take place under the Dutch Presidency is ironic because the Netherlands are themselves a tax haven such as Starbucks case did not fail to illustrate it. “ the Commission acknowledged Amsterdam to give the US giant ” tax benefits [...] illegal under European rules on state aid “, enabling Starbucks to also pay very little tax on its profits.

Google in the viewfinder

Francois Hollande denounced a similar situation Thursday night during his speech on France 2 and TF1. About the conflict between taxis and VTC, first accusing the latter of unfair competition, he said: “We can not do that people who do not pay taxes or social security contributions could be introduced market. “ a stone in the tax mounting Uber, which established its European headquarters in the Netherlands and also escapes profit tax in France.

All his warnings come as Google is in the viewfinder of the tax authorities in several European countries. Rome and demanded the giant Internet more than 200 million tax arrears. London has an agreement with the giant. It will pay 167 million euros in back taxes to the United Kingdom for the period 2005 to 2015 – a sum that is controversial because judged derisory not only by the Labour opposition but also by officials of the ruling Conservative Party . In France, Finance Minister Michel Sapin, recently estimated that a deal with Google to France on his back taxes was “a necessity” . According to several sources, the sum claimed by the French tax authorities could amount to 500 million euros.

About the plan presented by Moscovici, it requires unanimity of the 28 Member States, as for all tax issues. The former minister assures “count on the support of the European parliament and the support of Member States’ . Ironically, it is precisely the Netherlands, which until the end of June, holding the Presidency of the European Union

Richard Poirot


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