Luxembourg refused to deliver details concerning the 100 largest companies benefiting from a special programme for companies whose profits stem from intellectual-property rights, said the European Commission. The nation also failed to provide a specific overview of its tax deals with certain firms in 2011 and 2012.
“The commission has now adopted two information injunctions ordering Luxembourg to deliver the requested information within one month,” the EU regulator said.
“Should Luxembourg persist in its refusal, the commission may refer the issue to the EU Court of Justice.”
The commission last year started quizzing Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on their tax practices to determine whether selective advantages were granted amid a global crackdown on tax-avoidance.
Lawmakers in the US, the UK, France and Italy have scrutinised firms such as Microsoft, Hewlett- Packard, Apple, Google, and Amazon.com.
Amazon’s Luxembourg- based European unit paid tax of €8.2m on European- wide sales of €9.1bn in 2011, according to information it supplied to a UK House of Commons committee.
Several EU nations have introduced special tax systems for IP rights meant to stimulate innovation and investments in new technologies. Such programmes include so-called patent boxes allowing tax reductions on income from patents.
The Luxembourg programme, started in 2008, allows a tax exemption of 80% of profits derived from the use or licensing of IP rights such as patents, trademarks, designs, models, internet domain names and software copyrights, according to the commission statement.
Most government support, including specific tax breaks that enable companies to gain an unfair advantage over competitors, is illegal under EU rules.
The regulator said it has indications that special tax regimes seem to mainly benefit highly mobile businesses and do not trigger significant additional research and development activity.
The Luxembourg government’s press office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.