Pasqual Maragall Legacy

Debate on taxation and inequality



The debate on taxation and inequality concludes with an appeal to the fight in favor of transparency and against legal loopholes that facilitate tax avoidance.

"Now it's up to the States to demonstrate whether or not they intend to fight against the great tax evasion." The economist Jordi Angusto has advanced one of the main conclusions of the debate on taxation and inequality organized by the Catalunya Europa Foundation. At the conference, held this afternoon at the College of Journalists, Simona Levi, co-founder of the social action group against corruption xnet; Hervé Falciani, alerter of tax evasion and author of the Falciani List; Ernest Maragall, MEP member of the Parliamentary Commission against tax evasion and Francesc Mateu, director of Oxfam-Intermon in Catalonia.

Angusto, an advisor to the Foundation, has moderated the debate, which has had the collaboration of xnet and the group of The Greens / Europe Free Alliance in the European Parliament. And he has launched the questions that have guided the discussion: To what extent do tax havens enjoy the approval of States for the achievement of their own interests? Does fiscal policy serve to cope with globalization?

For Simona Levi the key is in the administrations, laws and even social customs. While events such as the Bankia case fill newspaper covers, it remains to be seen if the organizations have mechanisms to facilitate transparency. "It is very easy to put the bankers under pressure, but it is very difficult to change the institutions," he recalls. It is necessary to improve, for example, "the legislation on alerters in Spain", because "with the current regulations we criminalize them", he recalled. He also claimed the role of street people: "it must be explained to the public that organized citizens have been the ones who have denounced corruption". Remembering the role of these actors, he said, is essential to advance in the fight against tax evasion.

Much of the challenge is also to compensate for the facilities that modern payment technologies offer to those who want to avoid the commitment to pay taxes, Hervé Falciani said. The result is a less transparent system, where large corporations end up controlling information about financial transactions. To face it, "you have to replicate local payment technologies" to facilitate "basic information to all parties" and prevent large corporations from using technology in favor of opacity.

Tax avoidance and avoidance are not only detrimental to the developed world. Also for developing countries. This is the conclusion that Francesc Mateu, director of Oxfam-Intermón in Catalonia, wanted to advance: "65% of the income lost in Africa is due to tax avoidance". He added the example of Sierra Leone, a country without public resources to deal with Ebola: "In 2012 six multinationals settled in Sierra Leone in exchange for not paying taxes." Mateu has called on the States not to do business with companies that participate in tax avoidance in the developing world, although this is the case of "34 companies of the IBEX 35". He also recalled, however, that States should face their own tax practices: "In Spain, depending on what treatment we do in companies, we can consider ourselves a tax haven".

There is still work to be done, but. "We are protecting the use of mechanisms to take advantage of the loopholes in the current legislation," said Ernest Maragall, member of the Commission against tax evasion in the European Parliament. Despite the advances in European regulations - "The regulation of the European Commission on taxes is largely the result of the pressure of the group of green [to the Community legislature]," he recalled, "the obligation of companies to report in each country your tax information "leaves" in the hands of the States, not the citizenship ", the information on who pays taxes. For the MEP remains ahead "a very hard battle", because every regulation in favor of transparency and against tax evasion generates a "very powerful industry" against it. Maragall has cited the case of the Big Four - the big auditors, PWC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PWC. "It's a huge sector that is in charge of receiving information about new regulations, and see how to get around them." The answer lies in a "new fiscal regulation" at a global and European level, based on "complicities between citizens, organizations and administrations".

Jordi Angusto, adviser of the Catalunya Europa Foundation, has joined the call of Maragall, and has pointed out that "information on the valuation of companies in each country should also be in the hands of citizens". He also pointed out that the current legislation allows multinationals to "pay only after growing up", when it suits them.

During the question time, the journalist Andreu Missé, present among the public, praised the role of xnet - "Without the work of organizations such as X-Net the judgment of the Supreme Court with Bankia would not have been possible", he said. Among the attendees has arisen the doubt on how the interests of the 28 States of the European Union can be reconciled, when coordinating the fight against tax evasion. Maragall pointed out that it is preferable to go "directly towards a common taxation", towards the establishment of common taxes to finance a "European fund".