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Friday, February 17, 2017

Luxembourg – A Tax Haven!!!!

Letter published in the Guardian 10th November 2014

Millions of ordinary European citizens have known for years that Luxembourg, one of the six founding members of the Common Market, is a premier-league tax haven (Luxembourg and Juncker under pressure over tax deals, 7 November). The 80 journalists in 26 countries leaking 28,000 tax papers have confirmed the enormous size of the wholesale tax avoidance by national, multinational and transnational companies. Whether this will produce any more than a short-lived shock-horror from the politicians is doubtful, especially if the media does not keep up the pressure.

Radical Soapbox has highlighted companies claiming tax relief on interest paid on loans that are either artificial or the cost of a leveraged buyout. It’s now de rigueur for companies as diverse as Boots, Heathrow Airport, Manchester United and privatised utilities to avoid tax. It need not be so as the UK government could set limits on the amount of tax relief that can be claimed, as is done in other major European countries.

In France tax relief is set at 75%, in Holland there is only 100% tax relief on interest paid if the debt is less than double the equity, which is the value of all the company’s assets after allowing for all the debt and/or liabilities. In Germany, tax relief on interest paid is limited to 30% of Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation).

Overshadowing all the artificial loans is Jean-Claude Juncker’s deal with Vodafone to give them an artificial tax credit in Luxembourg of £17.4bn. Vodafone does not even trade in Luxembourg, but the tax credit can be set against their UK and other EU profits for years to come.

The government admits to £35bn a year tax avoidance, but others estimate it much higher. Whatever the actual figure, the outcome of wholesale tax avoidance by large companies is austerity. There would be no need for austerity if companies stopped avoiding tax and successive governments stopped allowing them to do so.

Michael Gold (@radicalmic)


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