International Tax Review is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2023

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Global Tax 50 2014: Joaquín Almunia

Former competition commissioner, EU

Joaquín Almunia

Joaquín Almunia is a new entry this year

After recognising Google, Amazon, and Starbucksas our most influential players in tax in 2013, it is not surprising that 2014 was dominated by the lingering effects of those companies' tax affairs being placed under the international spotlight. It is fitting then, that this year's list recognises one of their most vocal challengers. Joaquín Almunia has been an unequivocal force in Europe's fight against tax evasion. As the EU's competition commissioner, Spanish politician Almunia is best known for his efforts to push through anti-trust litigation against tech firm Google. He challenged the tech company on accusations that it favoured its' own results over competitors in searches.

Under Almunia, the European Commission (EC) challenged Apple's tax dealswith Ireland and launched an official investigation. In June of this year, regulators also launched official investigations into the Netherlands' deals with Starbucks and Luxembourg's agreements with Amazon and Fiat Finance and Trade.

The EC does not allow state aid in the form of tax breaks if such tax incentives distort competition among member states. During his tenure as competition commissioner, he challenged corporate tax loopholes that violate fair competition. US-based companies that exploited the tax policies of European countries came under closer scrutiny.

"State aidcontrol has been used in the past to investigate the selective treatment given to a particular company based on tax legislation or decisions. In the case of the opening of several investigations regarding multinationals, Director General of Competition analysed the way some member states made use of 'tax rulings' to allegedly give a selective advantage therefore distorting competition," Almunia told International Tax Review.

"The investigations don't anticipate the final decision, but are based on a 'reasonable doubt' about the breach of the state aid framework," Almunia said.

During his last several months in office, Almunia did not let up in the push against unfair corporate structures.

"National authorities must not allow selected companies to understate their taxable profits by using favourable calculation methods. It is only fair that subsidiaries of multinational companies pay their share of taxes and do not receive preferential treatment which could amount to hidden subsidies. This investigation concerning tax arrangements forAmazon in Luxembourgadds to our other in-depth investigations launched in June. I welcome that cooperation with Luxembourg has improved significantly," Almunia stated.

Almunia was reluctant to discuss the Luxembourg leaks and how the Commission should handle them, though he expressed confidence his successor (and fellow Global Tax 50 2014 entrant) Margrethe Vestager, will handle such problems with an equal amount of vigour.

"I am convinced they will continue the work that was being done under the previous Commission as we did with the work of our predecessors."

The Global Tax 50 2014

View the full list and introduction

Gold tier (ranked in order of influence)

1. Jean-Claude Juncker  2. Pascal Saint-Amans  3. Donato Raponi  4. ICIJ  5. Jacob Lew  6. George Osborne  7. Jun Wang  8. Inverting pharmaceuticals  9. Rished Bade  10. Will Morris

Silver tier (in alphabetic order)

Joaquín AlmuniaAppleJustice Patrick BoyleCTPAJoe HockeyIMFArun JaitleyMarius KohlTizhong LiaoKosie LouwPierre MoscoviciMichael NoonanWolfgang SchäubleAlgirdas ŠemetaRobert Stack

Bronze tier (in alphabetic order)

Shinzo AbeAlberto ArenasPiet BattiauMonica BhatiaBitcoinBonoWarren BuffettECJ TranslatorsEurodadHungarian protestorsIndian Special Investigation Team (SIT)Chris JordanArmando Lara YaffarMcKessonPatrick OdierOECD printing facilitiesPier Carlo PadoanMariano RajoyNajib RazakAlex SalmondSkandiaTax Justice NetworkEdward TroupMargrethe VestagerHeinz Zourek

more across site & bottom lb ros

More from across our site

The country’s tax authorities are not interested in seeing transfer pricing studies any more, it was claimed at an ITR industry conference in London.
The controversial measure is being watered down after criticism from the European Central Bank.
More than 600 such requests were made in 2022, while HMRC has also bolstered its fraud service, it has been revealed.
The General Court reverses its position taken four years ago, while the UN discusses tax policy in New York.
Discussion on amount B under the first part of the OECD's two-pronged approach to international tax reform is far from over, if the latest consultation is anything go by.
Pillar two might be top of mind for many multinational companies, but the huge variations between countries’ readiness means getting ahead of the game now, argues Russell Gammon, chief solutions officer at Tax Systems.
ITR’s latest quarterly PDF is going live today, leading on the looming battle between the UN and the OECD for dominance in global tax policy.
Company tax changes are central to the German government’s plan to revive the economy, but sources say they miss the mark. Ralph Cunningham reports.
The winners of the ITR Americas Tax Awards have been announced for 2023!
There is a ‘huge demand’ for tax services in the Middle East, says new Clyde & Co partner Rachel Fox in an interview with ITR.