Europe, Middle East and Africa Oil and Gas Correspondent
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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.

Jul 23, 2013

Special report: 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.

Jul 23, 2013

Most big U.S. tech groups slip European tax net

LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) – Most big U.S. technology
companies cut their tax bills by not declaring a tax residence
in their main European markets, preventing tax authorities in
those countries from even assessing their income, a Reuters
analysis of hundreds of corporate filings shows.

Last week the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) issued an action plan for tackling what it
calls corporate tax avoidance. This has become a major political
issue as citizens tire of paying higher taxes while companies
often pay effective tax rates that are a fraction of statutory
levels.

Jul 21, 2013

OECD publishes plan to cut tax evasion

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) – The Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development has (OECD) unveiled new plans to
tackle tax evasion by improving the way tax authorities share
information about individuals and entities like trusts.

Countries are increasingly moving to a standard of sharing
information on taxpayers even in the absence of any specific
request.

Jul 19, 2013

G20 back fundamental reform of corporate taxation

LONDON (Reuters) – The G20 backed a fundamental rethink of the rules on taxing multinational corporations on Friday, taking aim at loopholes used by companies such as Apple (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Google (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to avoid billions of dollars in taxes.

The group of leading economies released an action plan drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that said the existing system didn’t work, especially when it came to taxing companies that trade online.

Jul 12, 2013

Amazon criticized over low German tax bill

LONDON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s main German unit paid income tax of just 3 million euros in 2012 after the group channeled sales to German clients of $8.7 billion via Luxembourg units, prompting one lawmaker to call for an investigation of the company.

Accounts for Amazon.de GmbH filed with Germany’s companies register show that the company reported profit of just 10 million euros for 2012, which was taxed at the headline German rate of 30 percent.

Jul 5, 2013

Governments to target tech giants’ tax avoidance – draft

BERLIN/LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) – Western governments are
set to target a range of tax loopholes used by technology giants
including Apple, Amazon as part of an
international drive to tackle corporate tax avoidance, a draft
action plan seen by Reuters said.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD), which advises its mainly rich nation members on economic
and tax policies, has been charged by the G20 group of countries
with formulating measures to stop big companies shifting profits
into tax havens.

    • About Tom

      "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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