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EU sets tax haven blacklist criteria

Following the publishing of the panama papers, the EU vowed to draw up a blacklist of tax havens that are resisting moves on global tax transparency.

On the 8th of November, The European Council finalised an agreement on the criteria of the blacklist and the process for the establishment of an EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. The process will due to be completed by the end of 2017.

The criteria to be excluded from the blacklist is extensive:

  • The jurisdiction must have committed to and started the legislative process for implementing the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), with the first exchanges to take place in 2018 at the latest.
  • It must also have arrangements in place to automatically exchange tax information with all EU member states, and possess at least a "Largely Compliant" rating from the Global Forum on the exchange of information on request.
  • Sovereign states must have either ratified, agreed to ratify, be in the process of ratifying, or committed to the entry into force of the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance (MCAA) in Tax Matters, or have in place by December 31, 2018 a network of exchange arrangements sufficiently broad to cover all EU member states. Non-sovereign jurisdictions must either participate in the MCAA or have a network of exchange arrangements in force, or have taken the necessary steps to bring these agreements into force within a reasonable timeframe.
  • A jurisdiction must also be considered compliant on "fair taxation." It should have no preferential measures that could be regarded as harmful, and should not "facilitate offshore structures or arrangements aimed at attracting profits which do not reflect real economic activity in the jurisdiction."
  • A jurisdiction must commit by the end of 2017 to the agreed OECD anti-BEPS minimum standards and their consistent implementation, and receive a positive assessment for their effective implementation.


In an article by the Guardian prior to last week’s meeting, it appeared that member states were assessing whether a zero or near-zero rate of corporate tax should have been included in the criteria. Jurisdictions at risk included Jersey, Guernsey, Cayman and British Virgin Islands.

The UK, Ireland, Sweden, the Baltic States, the Netherlands and Luxembourg allegedly tried to block a plan to put such jurisdictions on the list.

It appears from the criteria above that the move was successful – for now.