“Tax evasion: who has stashed billions?” wonders the front page of Libération on the occasion of the May 22 summit of European leaders in Brussels, which will focus on measures to harmonise tax structures and combat fraud.
Hard hit by the full force of the crisis, the 27 member states are hoping “to recover sums that are huge” but nonetheless difficult to evaluate, since fraud and fiscal optimisation have put beyond the reach of tax authorities, writes the French daily.
As Libération points out in its editorial, “those who want to dodge [taxes] should be relentlessly pursued.” However, the newspaper also highlights a damaging lack of coordination between the EU’s 27 member states, in a situation where
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the determination of national governments will not be sufficient. Tax fraud, whether perpetrated by private individuals or corporate enterprises, results from a lack of international coordination. A globalised economy must be counterbalanced by a globalised tax system. Although we are still very far from this goal, it is a critical objective for all western countries that continue to place the burden of most of their debts on honest taxpayers.
Both countries had spent years putting the brakes on the reform of taxes on savings interest before their recent change of tune. Now the EU is hoping to take advantage of this favourable moment to take action against fraudulent initiatives to avoid taxes on turnover and other corporate taxes. Proposals for tighter legislation aim to introduce taxes not only on savings interest, but also on life insurance policy and investment fund interest, which will have to be declared to tax authorities.