Macron to push for tax harmonisation among eurozone states

Throughout his campaign, Macron has been critical of tax avoidance measures allowed by some member states

Macron to push for tax harmonisation among eurozone states

French independent centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron waves to his supporters during a campaign rally in Paris, France. Picture by: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images

A senior policy adviser for French presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron has told Newstalk that if elected, Macron will push for a harmonised tax base for all eurozone member states.

“If we share a currency and economic integration then we have to share rules ... Including harmonisation” Clement Beaune, Macron’s economic policy advisor told Newstalk.

Macron, who is a former minister for the economy under current president, Francois Hollande is also due to lower France’s corporate tax rate from 33% to 25% – the EU average.

Throughout his campaign, Macron has also been critical of aggressive tax avoidance measures allowed by some member states that are unfairly advantageous for multi-billion dollar multinationals like Apple, Starbucks etc.

He specifically refers to Ireland’s tax regime both in his manifesto and during various speeches on his campaign.

Yesterday, at a press conference while on the hustings in Toulouse, France, Macron pointed to the European Commission’s Apple tax ruling which says Ireland gave a a special tax deal to Apple which amounted to illegal state aid, saying ““a very important decision a few months ago regarding state aid and precisely the current organisation of Ireland”.

Beaune points out that a transparent, common tax base is the ideal way of ending the practise of multi-nationals choosing very low tax regimes as a way of avoiding to pay tax on multi-billion euro profits.

He also says such harmonisation would stop eurozone member states from engaging in aggressive competition against each other by continuously lowering corporate tax in order to attract such multinationals.

Beaune, who is also a former business and economics Erasmus student at Trinity College, Dublin said it’s about a fair and level playing field among member states and preventing multi-nationals from getting away with paying little tax.

We need to “ensure that we have no unfair practices such as excessive competition (among member states)”, and we have to “engage in a comprehensive discussion on the eurozone rules to ensure that there is no excessive practice in terms of very high or very low corporate tax”, he told Newstalk.

Part of Macron’s plan for harmonising tax among eurozone countries includes plans by the European Commission drawn up around 10 years ago that involves a single formula for calculating profits for companies operating in several European states.

It does not involve altering countries tax rate which could continue to be as competitive as any government wishes, but might impact on Ireland’s attraction as a particularly low tax destination.

The proposal, called The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) has been voted down by member states including Ireland on several occasions, however both the European Commission under Jean Claude Juncker, and Emmanuel Macron, believe the time is right to reintroduce it as a way of making Europe’s tax regime more transparent and fair.

The Irish government has repeatedly refused to support it, and points to the fact that Ireland received legally-binding guarantees in the Lisbon Treaty stating tax policy is one of national competence.

A senior Irish government source restated this to Newstalk saying, “there’s a little bit of jingo-ism going on here - the French and Germans always lead the tax debate”.