Today Mauritius has been included on a new EU ‘grey list’ of jurisdictions which are committed to meeting EU recommendations and criteria on taxation policy. Mauritius was not included on the new blacklist which was also announced.
The new ‘blacklist’ of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions was adopted by EU Economic and Finance Ministers at the ECOFIN Council.
The blacklist comprises of 17 countries as follows:
American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Republic of Korea, Macao SAR, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.
EU Grey List
In an unexpected development, Ministers also announced that a second list of countries had been established, identifying those countries which have given commitments to the EU to implement tax good governance principles (with this list already being dubbed as the ‘Grey List’) within a certain timeframe.
There are 47 countries, including Mauritius, which are grouped under the following three headings:
1. Transparency commitments to be complied with: Curacao, Hong Kong SAR, New Caledonia, Oman, Qatar, Taiwan, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Fiji, Jordan, Montenegro, Serbia, Swaziland, Vietnam, Armenia, Botswana, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Jamaica, Maldives, Morocco, Peru, Thailand.
2. Fair taxation:
Existence of harmful tax regimes: The following countries are committed to amend or abolish the identified regimes by 2018: Mauritius, Andorra, Armenia, Aruba, Belize, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Cook Islands, Curacao, Fiji, Hong Kong SAR, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Morocco, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Seychelles, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Malaysia and Labuan Island have not yet made explicit commitments to make changes.
Existence of regimes that facilitate offshore structures which attract profits without real economic activity: The following countries are committed to addressing concerns by 2018: Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey and Vanuatu.
3. Anti-BEPS measures: The following countries are listed on the basis of commitments to become part of the BEPS Inclusive Framework or to implement BEPS minimum standards:
Aruba, Cook Islands, Faroe Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Fiji, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Jordan, Maldives, Montenegro, Morocco, Serbia and Swaziland, Nauru, Niue.
Further details are set out in the Council Conclusions here.
Speaking at a press conference, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis commented on the situation of those on the ‘grey list’, saying that these countries had taken a number of commitments with which the countries would need to comply in order to ensure that they are not put on the list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions in the future.
He reiterated that, broadly speaking, developed countries would have one year to comply, and developing countries would have two years to comply. He stressed that the EU blacklist was not ‘closed’ and that those who comply may be removed, and that those who have made commitments but which do not comply could be put on the list.
He said that the work would require constant follow up, but did not provide a specific timeframe for when the list would be reviewed.