European Union creates blacklist of 17 'tax haven' countries

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The penalties could include special documentation requirements and withholding tax measures.

In the wake of the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers leaks, the European Union has set up a blacklist of nations identified as tax havens.

"If EU governments really wanted to get rid of tax havens, they should be open about the fact that several EU Member States, such as Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands, also have to fundamentally change their behaviour". "In the future, too, most countries will try to avoid being publicly shamed".

Other jurisdictions are understood to have been given leeway after suffering severe damage during hurricanes in the Caribbean earlier this year.

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"It's an important continuation of the recent years' clear breakthrough in the worldwide fight against tax evasion".

The list is a result of excessive screening of more third countries before the ministers made up their mind that these 17 non-EU countries will be blacklisted, while another 47 will be included in a separate gray list, to be monitored for their compliance with commitments undertaken.

BEPS refers to an agreement signed by some OECD member countries to tackle tax avoidance strategies that allow multinational companies to shift profits artificially to low or no-tax locations.

It has also taken legal action against major firms including Amazon that have been accused of owing back taxes.

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The bloc did not assess its own member states.

Among those not included on the main blacklist were British overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and Jersey, all of which were revealed to be at the centre of major tax avoidance schemes in the recent Paradise Papers. Some did so by promising to clean up their act. "I invite the member states to not be naive and keep pressure on the third countries to stay on course", he said as he arrived for the talks in Brussels. "Tax dodging means less money available for healthcare, education and the fight against poverty".

The EU originally screened a total of 92 jurisdictions and once the list is compiled it is expected to be continuously updated.

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