Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
Lough Erne, 18 June 2013
The joint challenges of tax evasion and tax base erosion lie at the heart of the social contract. Our citizens are demanding that we tackle offshore tax evasion by wealthy individuals and re-vamp the international tax system to prevent multinational enterprises from artificially shifting profits and eroding our tax base.
On tax evasion, we have made great progress since the establishment of our Global Forum on Tax Transparency: 120 jurisdictions are already exchanging tax information on request based on more than 1000 agreements signed in the last few years. Four years ago there were only 50. Today, we offer you a detailed roadmap to “migrate” towards Automatic Exchange of Information, as a single, higher global standard. Already around 60 countries have signed the Multilateral Tax Convention, which will allow them to move to automatic exchange of the information, including all the G8 and all but one of the G20 Countries. I congratulate the UK for encouraging its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to move towards this new standard and the Mexican Government for having requested to join the group of Countries which decided to adopt the new standard.
You have also asked that we propose actions to improve transparency regarding beneficial ownership of companies and other opaque legal arrangements. With the work of the OECD, supported by the G8 and G20, more jurisdictions will abandon these practices, leaving tax evaders with fewer and fewer places to hide.
On corporate tax avoidance, we are updating the international tax rules to reflect today’s globalised business environment and to re-establish a framework that neither generates double taxation nor facilitates double non-taxation. A comprehensive action plan is under discussion to be approved at the G20 in Saint Petersburg. With individuals, we enforce the law, with enterprises, it will be necessary to change the law, rules and regulations to eliminate the loopholes which allow companies to pay little or no taxes.
We do not seek harmonisation of tax systems or of tax rates. We aim to close the gaps and reduce the frictions between outdated tax systems and today’s business practices. We aim to provide certainty, a level playing field and, critically, a fairer distribution of the tax burden.
Finally, international efforts will also support the ability of developing countries to mobilise domestic resources for sustainable development.
We offer the OECD’s Global Tax Forum and its Tax and Development Task Force as well as our “Global relations and development Initiative” to help developing countries so that they can better their fair share of taxes for the benefit of their citizens, their economies and their futures!
The support of the G8 will allow us to move forward and succeed on these ambitious endeavours.