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#Taxation: Google, Apple, IKEA i McDonalds ispitane od strane Porezne rješenja II odbora

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Google, Apple, Inter-IKEA Group and McDonald’s would welcome more clarity and certainty about their tax liabilities in the EU, but they are concerned about the administrative compliance costs and reluctant to see tax data being made public. So said their representatives at a public hearing, held by Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings II on Tuesday, to elicit their views on recent and upcoming proposed legislation on corporate tax.

MEPs were keen to hear the multinational companies’ views on the proposed directive against base erosion and profit shifting (anti-BEPS), which follows an agreement struck at OECD and G20 levels. They specifically asked about the proposed requirement for country-by-country reporting of profits, taxes and subsidies and whether such information should be made public.

But the anticipated common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) and company specific tax structures – such as Google’s ‘Bermuda’ structure, IKEA’s ‘royalties’ one, Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland and McDonalds’ franchises – were also subject to intense debate.

Google

Several MEPs criticised Google for paying too little tax in EU countries and said that its deal with the UK revenue service (HMRS), whereby it will pay £130 million in back taxes and higher ones in future, shows that Google was ethically off track. Its Head of Economic Policy, Adam Cohen said that HMRS had looked into its transfer pricing arrangements and concluded that certain benchmarks needed to be adjusted. “That is normal for multinational companies”, he underlined, adding that Google pays a global effective tax rate of 19% and that the EU’s overall rate is around 20%.

Google has serious reservations about the Commission’s Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) plans, which – Mr Cohen said – would increase costs for Google as it would require an establishment in every EU country. “This would be contrary to the principle of the internal market”, he added.

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“Apple is the largest taxpayer in the world. In 2015 we paid 13.2 billion dollars in taxes worldwide, which is an effective tax rate of 36.4%”, its representatives said when asked about the company’s tax structures in Europe and the state aid investigation launched by competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. However, they were not prepared to disclose its EU and Irish tax figures. “Those are confidential. When country-by-country reporting will become mandatory, we will of course follow”. Apple, like Google, pays most of its taxes in the US, where most of its employees are based and its research is done.

McDonalds

McDonalds’ Vice President of European Operations Cathy Kearney welcomed the anti-BEPS proposal, saying it would create a “clearer, simpler and more consistent international tax regime”. But “we are concerned about unilateral approaches [that will result] if the BEPS directives arel not harmonised in a holistic manner. The idea should be to remove barriers to trade, not create new ones”, she continued, adding that McDonalds is not in favour of public reporting by country: “Information should be kept confidential between tax authorities and not be made public. That could harm competition”, she concluded.

Inter-IKEA grupa

Izvršni direktor Inter-IKEA Grupe Soren Hansen došao je pod vatru Zelenih, koji su predstavili istraživanja na temelju kojih optužuju tvrtku za izbjegavanje poreza kroz operacije licenciranja preko Nizozemske i Lihtenštajna. Gospodin Hansen je rekao da su neke od pretpostavki na kojima se temelji izvješće bile lažne, ali da će se vratiti s pisanom procjenom istraživanja. Također je rekao da bi anti-BEPS prijedlog trebao biti usklađen unutar i izvan EU-a, da se treba izbjegavati birokracija i da bi mehanizam za brzo rješavanje sporova bio vrlo dobrodošao.

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