Eurozone chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem tells multinational corporations to refrain from tax avoidance practices and pay their fair share of taxes. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Multinationals should refrain from tax avoidance practices and pay their fair share of taxes, the head of euro zone finance ministers said on Saturday, in a new endorsement to the European Union fight against tax dodging. In the wake of the 'Panama Papers' revelations of widespread tax avoidance practices, Brussels has toughened up its drive for tax fairness by tightening controls and adopting stricter rules. The recent shock multi-billion euro tax demand on Apple was part of that trend. "My message to those companies is: You're fighting the wrong battle, you have to move on. Times are changing. You need to pay your taxes in a fair way, part of that would be in the U.S. and part of that will be in Europe. So get ready to do that," the head of the euro group and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters on his arrival to a meeting of EU finance ministers in Bratislava, which will discuss tax policies. The Commission, which is in charge of protecting market competition in Europe, is investigating multinationals' tax arrangements in several EU countries to assess whether, by lowering corporations' tax bills, illegal state aid may have been given. Tax issues will be the main topic at the finance ministers' meeting in Bratislava where national delegates will discuss a paper presented by the Slovak presidency of the EU calling for more tax certainty for multinationals. The proposal aims at stepping up cooperation among EU states to reduce tax avoidance, while making tax bills more predictable for corporations. Online retailer Amazon.com Inc and hamburger group McDonald's Corp face European Commission's probes over taxes in Luxembourg, while coffee chain StarbucksCorp has been ordered to pay up to 30 million euros ($33 million) in back-taxes to the Dutch state. The Netherlands has appealed against the Commission's decision on Starbucks, and Ireland did the same in the Apple case, fearing that this may undermine the country's long-established policy of attracting multinationals with low taxes.