Europe, Middle East and Africa Oil and Gas Correspondent
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Nov 22, 2013

Luxembourg, Cyprus, BVI, Seychelles fail tax transparency rules-OECD

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Luxembourg, Cyprus, the British
Virgin Islands and the Seychelles do not meet international
standards on tax transparency, a global tax forum said on
Friday, as international pressure grows on countries seen as tax
havens.

The four failed to share taxpayer information with other
countries effectively or to gather information on beneficial
ownership of corporate entities registered on their territory,
said the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of
Information for Tax Purposes.

Oct 23, 2013

Big companies push back against G20 tax avoidance plan

LONDON (Reuters) – Big companies have pushed back against an international drive to crack down on corporate tax avoidance, documents published by the body charged with drafting new rules showed on Wednesday.

The Paris-based OECD published letters from European companies including Diageo and Gazprom and groups representing the biggest U.S. multinationals asking it to reconsider proposed measures on transparency and on tackling tax avoidance, saying the plans could hit trade and investment.

Oct 15, 2013

Ireland to close Apple’s tax loophole, but leave bigger one open

LONDON/DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland said on Tuesday it planned to shut down a much-criticized tax arrangement used by Apple Inc to shelter over $40 billion from taxation – but will leave open an even bigger loophole that means the computer giant is unlikely to pay any more tax.

A U.S. Senate committee investigation revealed in May that Apple had cut billions from its tax bill by declaring companies registered in the Irish city of Cork as not tax resident in any country. Senator Carl Levin said the company had achieved the “holy grail of tax avoidance” with the structures.

Oct 14, 2013

NGOs accuse Alliance Boots of avoiding $1.8 billion in UK taxes

LONDON (Reuters) – A British charity and a labour union accused Europe’s largest pharmacy chain, Alliance Boots, of avoiding over 1.1 billion pounds ($1.76 billion) in UK tax since 2008 and called on the government to change laws which allow such tax planning.

Corporate tax avoidance has risen to the top of the political agenda in the UK as Britons tire of austerity measures aimed at tackling large public debt built up as a result of the financial crisis.

Sep 30, 2013

Google pays $55 million tax in Britain on 2012 sales of $5.5 bln

LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Google, which has been
grilled twice in the past year by a UK parliamentary committee
over its tax practices, had a UK tax bill of 35 million pounds
($55 million) in 2012, on sales of $5.5 billion to British
customers, its accounts showed.

The Internet search giant paid a tax rate of 2.6 percent on
$8.1 billion in non-U.S. income in 2012, because it channelled
almost all of its overseas profits to a subsidiary in Bermuda
which levies no corporate income tax, the group’s accounts show.

Sep 20, 2013

How a German tech giant trims its U.S. tax bill

LONDON (Reuters) – In July 2012, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner travelled to an island off the German coast to meet Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister. Schaeuble was on vacation, but Geithner visited to discuss the euro zone crisis. Talk also turned to a long-running bugbear of Schaeuble’s: corporate tax avoidance.

According to a letter Schaeuble later wrote to Geithner, the Treasury Secretary had explained in their conversation that the most aggressive forms of avoidance often involved technology companies parking valuable know-how in low-tax countries and making other parts of the company pay high rates to use it. In Schaeuble’s letter he sought Geithner’s support for international action against legal tax dodging. Profit shifting, the finance minister said, was largely a problem involving U.S. companies. Tax rules in Germany made it more difficult there. This “could explain why we do not know of German companies with comparable tax arrangements to the U.S. companies,” the letter, seen by Reuters, said.

Sep 20, 2013

Special Report: How a German tech giant trims its U.S. tax bill

LONDON (Reuters) – In July 2012, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner traveled to an island off the German coast to meet Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister. Schaeuble was on vacation, but Geithner visited to discuss the euro zone crisis. Talk also turned to a long-running bugbear of Schaeuble’s: corporate tax avoidance.

According to a letter Schaeuble later wrote to Geithner, the Treasury Secretary had explained in their conversation that the most aggressive forms of avoidance often involved technology companies parking valuable know-how in low-tax countries and making other parts of the company pay high rates to use it. In Schaeuble’s letter he sought Geithner’s support for international action against legal tax dodging. Profit shifting, the finance minister said, was largely a problem involving U.S. companies. Tax rules in Germany made it more difficult there. This “could explain why we do not know of German companies with comparable tax arrangements to the U.S. companies,” the letter, seen by Reuters, said.

Jul 30, 2013

UK lawmakers call for review of corporate tax

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) – A panel of UK lawmakers has
called on the government to conduct a review of Britain’s
corporate income tax regime to tackle what it said was a
“serious problem of avoidance”.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee told the
government it should force companies to publish summary tax
returns, curb the tax deductibility of interest payments and
consider penalising companies engaged in aggressive tax
avoidance.

Jul 28, 2013

As Europe struggles, companies focus on cost cuts

DAGENHAM, England, July 28 (Reuters) – Glistening chains on
the turnstyles at Ford Motor Co.’s plant in east London
illustrate how, even when companies unveil positive news about
their European operations, it may not mean things are picking up
in the economy.

Ford told investors this week that its European
operation was performing better than expected and that its
turnaround on this side of the Atlantic was on track.

Jul 23, 2013

How big tech stays offline on tax

LONDON (Reuters) – Big business was having none of it. In January 2013, a lobby group which represents the largest corporations in the world wrote a letter to the body that drafts the rules on taxing multinationals. The letter focused on a small change to an obscure document, but one that was significant enough to worry Will Morris, Director of Global Tax Policy at U.S. industrial giant General Electric Co.

The letter, which Morris wrote in his capacity as head of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee lobby, was addressed to Pascal Saint-Amans, head of the Center for Tax Policy at The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 mainly rich economies including the United States. It expressed concern about the proposed language in an updated tax convention. Morris wrote – 13 times in all – that his group was “concerned” about the proposal, but had been ignored. Submissions on the OECD’s website show that lobbyists, especially those representing tech firms, had been voicing such fears for more than a year.

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      "Tom leads our coverage of the oil and gas industry in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and is also author of 'Spills & Spin: The Inside Story of BP'. A former oil broker who turned to journalism 12 years ago, he is regularly interviewed on CNBC and other TV and radio stations on energy matters. Tom has reported from over twenty countries including Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, the U.S. and Russia. As Europe, Middle East and Africa Oil & Gas Correspondent, he has chartered the rise in oil prices to record levels, interviewed oil ministers and the CEOs of ..."
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