Written by Pieter Baert (1st edition).
While shell companies – company entities that have no or minimal economic activity – can serve useful commercial and business functions, they are sometimes abused by companies or individuals for aggressive tax planning or tax evasion. To ensure sustainable public finances under the exceptional circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, in December 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal on preventing shell companies from misusing their structure for tax purposes (‘Unshell’).
The proposal introduces a ‘filtering’ system for EU company entities, which will have to pass a series of gateways, relating to income, staff and premises, to ensure there is sufficient ‘substance’ to the entity. Those entities that are deemed to be lacking in substance are presumed to be ‘shell companies’ and, if they are unable to rebut this presumption through additional evidence regarding the commercial, non-tax rationale of the entity, they will lose any tax advantages granted through bilateral tax treaties or EU directives, thereby discouraging their use. While ‘Unshell’ targets only shell entities located within the EU, in 2022 the Commission will launch a proposal to tackle non-EU shell entities.
|Proposal for laying down rules to prevent the misuse of shell entities for tax purposes and amending Directive 2011/16/EU|
|Committee responsible:||Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON)||COM(2021) 565|
|Rapporteur:||Lidia Pereira (EPP, Portugal)||2021/0434(CNS)|
|Shadow rapporteurs:||Paul Tang (S&D, the Netherlands)|
Gilles Boyer (Renew, France)
Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, Spain)
Gunnar Beck (ID, Germany)
Michiel Hoogeveen (ECR, the Netherlands)
Mick Wallace (The Left, Ireland)
|Consultation procedure |
(CNS) – Parliament adopts a non-binding opinion
|Next steps expected: Vote in committee|