October 19, 2018 / 12:16 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Germany looking to coordinate global minimum corporate tax

(Updates with ministry statement)

BERLIN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is working with international counterparts on a global minimum corporate tax, a ministry spokesman said on Friday, as governments look to prevent companies from shopping around for tax havens.

A crackdown by the European Commission on deals between individual EU governments and multinationals has resulted in Apple, Starbucks and Fiat paying billions of euros in back taxes.

"The goal is to prevent unfair tax competition," the spokesman said. "The German government is convinced that big, digital and border-crossing companies must do their part to finance the common good."

Conceptual work on the proposal is still under way and consultations are still at an early stage, the spokesman said.

Germany is working closely with France on the plan, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported, adding that Scholz has asked the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) to consider the proposal.

The proposal would be an extension of BEPS, a set of OECD policies to tackle tax avoidance strategies that allow multinational companies to shift profits artificially to low or no-tax locations.

Handelsblatt quoted an OECD official as saying the proposal had been well received but that talks remained at an early stage. "In the context of the BEPS discussion, France and Germany have proposed discussing a minimum tax and making it the standard," OECD tax lead Pascal Saint-Amans was quoted as saying.

The goal is not to force countries to potentially raise their tax levels, but to give them a way to ensure that companies did not skip paying taxes at all. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Andrea Shalal; editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Jason Neely)

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