Danish Parliament to Grill Tax Chief on EU Tax Havens

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By Karin Jensen

The Danish Parliament’s tax committee has summoned the country’s tax chief to answer questions on whether the government may have pension funds invested among countries on the European Union’s tax haven blacklist.

The committee will question Minister of Taxation Karsten Lauritzen on Jan. 11 in an open consultation. “The committee wishes to have a discussion with the minister as to whether the government is ready to ensure that statutory and public funds are not invested in tax havens on the blacklist,” according to the invitation. The committee also plans to talk about which measures can be used in relation to those countries, both nationally and internationally.

Denmark should ensure its pension funds aren’t invested in the listed tax havens, Lisbeth Bech Poulsen, a member of the committee who will be asking questions at the consultation, said. “We do not want to support such countries with public funds,” she said.

Lauritzen declined a request to comment.

Bech Poulsen said it is vital that the parliament be informed about which steps Denmark plans to take in relation to the blacklisted countries.

The European Union on Dec. 5 flagged 17 countries on its list of tax havens. There are no EU member nations, including Denmark, on the list. The EU flagged those countries that didn’t meet criteria related to bank information exchange, the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard and corporate tax reforms within its base erosion and profit shifting project.

“The purpose with the open consultation is to ask some very concrete questions and hopefully get answers from the minister on what will happen now,” Bech Poulsen, representing the Socialist People’s Party in parliament, told Bloomberg Tax Jan. 5.

Bech Poulsen said the committee had previously asked the Minister of Finance, Kristian Jensen, to attend an open consultation as he is Denmark’s finance representative in the EU, but he deferred to the Lauritzen. She said she fears Lauritzen will “procrastinate” in his response to the list.

“It is relevant to know what the government intends to do, what Denmark will do. The EU has come up with a strong call for the member states (to act), with proposals for initiatives, both in terms of taxes and foreign policy,” she said.

Pension Funds

While some of the companies located in the tax haven countries are legitimate, the countries themselves still lack necessary transparency, she said.

Bech Poulsen said that if the Danish government doesn’t come up with initiatives to prevent Danish funds being invested in the 17 tax havens listed by the EU, her party would act.

Citing ATP—a mandatory pension scheme with total assets of DKK 758.1bn ($1,224), according to its website—Bech Poulsen said her party would “follow this up with a resolution in parliament, which will seek to amend the ATP Act, the Act on International Development Cooperation and other relevant acts.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Jensen in Denmark at correspondents@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Penny Sukhraj at psukhraj@bloombergtax.com

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