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Targeting tax from the top

November 5, 2012

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his British counterpart George Osborne have proposed a push to make multinational companies pay their "fair share" of taxes at a G20 meeting in Mexico City.

A pile of coins (© Adam Wasilewski #19778154 - Fotolia.com)
Image: Fotolia/Adam Wasilewski

Britain and Germany issued a joint statement on Monday urging world economies to tighten tax standards for multinational companies, in an effort to close legal loopholes that can be used to circumvent payment.

Wolfgang Schäuble and George Osborne said they expected "widespread support" for their joint initiative.

"We want to make sure that we are successful economies which are the home of international businesses but that international businesses pay the taxes that we expect them to pay," Osborne told reporters in a joint news conference with Schäuble.

Tax revenue for major companies has come into sharp focus in the past month, with figures for Facebook, Starbucks and Apple all coming under severe scrutiny.

"Britain and Germany want competitive corporate tax systems that attract global companies to our countries, but also want global companies to pay those taxes," Schäuble and Osborne wrote in their joint statement. "That is best achieved through international action in the G20 and other relevant international fora to ensure strong standards."

Schäuble and Osborne were attending the two-day G20 finance ministers' and central bankers' meeting in Mexico City, which focused on threats to the global economy like the eurozone's sovereign debt difficulties and the possibility of a downturn in the US.

A German finance ministry official said that France was also backing the drive, with Germany and Britain hoping to push the plans forward during Russia's presidency of the G20 next year.

msh/mz (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)