A Reminder of the 8 Countries the EU Removed from Its Tax Haven Blacklist Early This Year
Most high-net-worth individuals who take advantage of offshore accounts to pay lower taxes are aware that the EU created a blacklist of tax havens about a year and a half ago. Countries that are on the blacklist have to deal with sanctions from the EU as well as individual membership states. When the list arrived, it was highly controversial due to the narrow scope of the list as well as the fact that some common tax havens, such as British Overseas Territories, were not included. The recent removal of some blacklisted countries does, however, show that the EU is willing to work with countries to get them off the blacklist.
The Removed Countries and Why They Were Removed
In January of this year, the European Union announced that eight countries would be removed from its blacklist of tax havens. These removals were a direct result of the countries taking steps that the EU saw as progress toward fixing the issues related to dodging taxes. The countries that were removed from the list in January included Barbados, Grenada, Macau, Mongolia, Panama, South Korea, Tunisia, and the UAE. These countries are now on a “grey list” instead of a blacklist. As part of the grey list, the EU monitors the countries and pressures them to actually complete the changes they agreed to under the threat of going back on the blacklist.
The Updates Are Not Enough for Most
Even with the removal of these eight countries from the tax haven blacklist, many are still opposed to the entire blacklisting process. In addition to the concerns of scope and omitting certain tax havens when the list was first released, there are more recent concerns. In January, following the announcement that the EU was moving certain countries from the blacklist to the grey list, the Oxfam EU policy advisor for tax and inequality, Aurore Chardonnet, argued that the EU was just “rushing” to remove countries from the blacklist without an actual commitment for improvement. Oxfam saw this as yet another factor undermining the entire matter of the tax haven blacklist.
Those at Oxfam and other organizations feel that if the EU was serious about their concerns regarding high-net-worth individuals paying low taxes due to tax havens, they would also take steps against the havens within the European Union. In fact, Oxfam published a report in November 2017 that said that based on the EU requirements for blacklisting, four EU member nations should actually be on the list as well, including Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, and the Netherlands.
The only progress the EU has made in dealing with criticism regarding the tax haven blacklist took place in March of this year. At this point, they began publishing a list of the commitments to changes that tax havens made that allowed them to move from the blacklist to the grey list.
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