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AB InBev, HSBC, Google, 8 others to testify at EU tax hearing

BRUSSELS – Anheuser-Busch InBev, HSBC, Google and eight other companies will be quizzed by EU lawmakers next week on their European tax deals as part of a campaign to ensure multinationals pay their fair share of taxes.

While the European Parliament’s tax committee can only issue a non-binding recommendation at the end of November, the publicity generated by its actions will likely ramp up the pressure on governments and the companies that are seeking to minimise tax.

The European Commission has already ordered Luxembourg to recover up to 30 million euros ($32 million) in back taxes from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Dutch a similar amount from U.S. coffee chain Starbucks as a result of illegal deals.

Amazon, already in the Commission’s crosshairs over its Luxembourg tax deal, Barclays, Coca-Cola Co, Facebook, Ikea, McDonald’s, Philip Morris International and the Walt Disney Co will also attend the hearing, according to the committee’s website.

Wal-Mart Stores declined the invitation while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has yet to respond. All the companies had previously turned down invitations to an earlier hearing.

“The mood is changing very fast, among companies as much as among governments. The time of outwitting your competitor through aggressive tax planning is bound to come to an end, and sooner than expected,” committee chairman Alain Lamassoure said in an email.

Another committee member Michael Theurer said the committee, which is scheduled to be disbanded once it issues its report, should be given more time to do its work.

“I request a prolongation or renewal of our mandate, since we still have not received all documents that we requested from the Commission and member states, and this is not acceptable,” he said in an email.

The committee was set up in February after a group of investigative journalists unveiled details of tax deals that helped hundreds of multinationals to reduce their tax bills to minimal amounts. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter and Jane Merriman)

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