The use of offshore entities ‘undermines onshore govts’ efforts to tax fairly’: report

The use of offshore entities in tax havens and offshore financial centres that enable “money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion” to take place is undermining the efforts of governments in onshore jurisdictions “to distribute the tax burden fairly,” according to a report commissioned by the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry.

The 65-page report, published in April and available on the European Parliament’s website, makes a number of recommendations, including that advisers and intermediaries in the EU be urged to self-regulate themselves “to combat money laundering, tax avoidance and evasion by [introducing] stronger rules on independence and responsibility, as well as obligatory reporting of tax avoidance schemes”.

“However, the diversity in the type and location of feeders of trust companies, such as Mossack Fonseca [the Panamanian law firm at the centre of last year’s Panama Papers scandal] make it challenging to substantially decrease the undesired activities using measures that target only advisers and intermediaries that provide advice,” the report adds.

It suggests such other possible actions, including targeting “just the most essential intermediaries (trust companies and banks)”, even though these are in most cases not located or represented in onshore jurisdictions.

In addition, “onshore jurisdictions should increase pressure on offshore jurisdictions to take appropriate measures, one of which could be to gradually broaden the scope of international anti-money laundering standards (AML/CFT) to also include tax avoidance, tax evasion and hiding/shielding.”

To read and download the report, which is entitled “Role of Advisors and Intermediaries in the Schemes Revealed in the Panama Papers” in full, on the European Parliament’s website, click here.

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