EU, Taxes, and Competition

European Union regulators delayed decisions on whether four multinational companies including Apple Inc and Inc may have benefited from illegal tax sweeteners, citing difficulties in obtaining information to make their case.

The difficulty isn’t just from the companies: the nations involved also are reluctant to give up the data.

There’s this, too:

At a time of austerity in many countries, governments across the continent are seeking to shore up their finances and demonstrate to taxpayers that wealthy multinationals are paying their fair share of tax.


Brussels cannot impose tax policy on the bloc’s 28 governments, but regulators are using an EU-wide ban on selective state aid to companies to crack down on individual tax deals that they deem to have given an unfair advantage to certain enterprises.


The aim of the investigations, Ms [EU’s European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe] Vestager added, is to set a precedent that would “inspire” national governments to change legislation to ensure their tax systems are in line with EU rules. That has already happened in Ireland, where the government has announced it would phase out the controversial double-Irish tax loophole, she said.

Of course, all of this would go by the boards if the EU and its member nations could understand their governments don’t need the money; they need to reduce their government spending. The money in the nations’ citizens’ hands would be far more efficiently used—and provide the competition Vestager’s office claims to want.

Even accepting the fiction that each nation’s tax code should look like every other nation’s tax code, because all the nations are carbon copies of each other.  After all, suppressing competition among the nations is a core task of Vestager’s office.

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