EU targets US for tax haven blacklist

(International Adviser) -- A “fast-tracked” OECD review could decide if the European Union adds the United States to its blacklist for non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, according to media reports.

Bloomberg Tax has reportedly seen a confidential letter, sent by the EU on 15 March, requesting the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) analyse recent US tax reforms.

According to the document, the EU has made the request as it considering whether the US should be placed on the EU tax haven blacklist.

OECD assessment

Further, the EU asked the OECD’s forum for harmful taxation to “fast-track” the review, according to the media agency.

The EU is understood to have asked the OECD to carry out the assessment as the US is one of its members and it is therefore the “primary body responsible to assess whether there are preferential regimes included in their tax reform”.

The first blacklist was published in December 2017 and contained 17 jurisdictions, but eight were removed after one month.

Currently, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, American Samoa, Guam, Namibia, Palau, and Samoa are on the list.

Last week, the EU Commission sent a “wake-up call” to those on its blacklist, announcing its first sanctions to counter their “aggressive tax practices”.

Tax reforms

The US has made a series of major tax reforms recently, including cutting its corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Further, the North American nation has not implemented the Common Reporting Standard and some states allow beneficial owners of companies to remain confidential.

US territories

In January, the US Treasury Department sent a strongly worded letter to the EU saying the blacklist “undermines” international standards put in place to identify non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.

The letter, written by US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, says: “The US disagrees with the [EU] Council’s decision to subject non-EU jurisdictions to a separate review process and to release its own list of ‘non-cooperative jurisdictions’ for tax purposes.”

He said the US has taken this view due to the leading role it has played in the OECD inclusive framework called Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (Beps) and by being an original member of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

BEPS and ATAD Reshaping Intern…