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European Commission plans to oblige EU countries by 2017 to collect and automatically share data on income from employment, directors' fees, life insurance, pensions and property were approved by MEPs on Wednesday. Current rules do not oblige countries to collect this data, thus allowing loopholes. By 2017, the new rules would also require them to collect and share information on other income, including that from dividends, capital gains and bank account balances.

In the plenary vote, Parliament rejected its Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee’s recommendation that the “availability principle”, whereby a country need only exchange income data which it itself decides to collect, should be maintained. However, the plenary did take up the committee's suggestion that member states should incur penalties for breaching the rules.

The report was approved by 360 votes to 59, with 287 abstentions.

On Thursday the plenary debated with the Commission how best to achieve an agreed, measurable and tangible commitment against tax evasion and tax avoidance in the EU.  It then voted a resolution on the same matter.

The resolution calls for the tax gap (difference between what should and is collected) to be halved by 2020 and asks the Commission to introduce a set of tangible targets for reducing it. 

The Commission is also asked to establish a standardised set of indicators for measuring tax evasion and avoidance. A reduced tax gap would provide a much-needed increase in tax revenue during the current period of crisis recovery, the resolution adds.