Tax transparency requires tax administrations to have the information they need to enforce a country’s tax laws. Transparency in particular refers to the availability of information on the ownership and accounting documents of companies and other entities, as well as the availability of banking information.
Ensuring the availability of ownership, accounting and banking information has an impact not only on the assessment and collection of taxes, but also on the fight against corruption: transparency directly conflicts with the interests of lawbreakers and corrupt persons who need to hide their criminal behaviour behind corporate veils, falsified books of accounts and strict bank secrecy.
Transparency for tax purposes is currently being assessed by a process of peer review in the 107 member jurisdictions of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum). The Global Forum also ensures that jurisdictions have appropriate mechanisms for their tax authorities to access this information and exchange it with other jurisdictions that need it to properly assess and collect their own taxes.
The OECD has been on the forefront of the work on the issues of tax havens, tax transparency and tax cooperation for many years. After the G20 London Summit in 2009, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) was restructured to globally promote the effective implementation of the internationally agreed standard on transparency and exchange of information. The following questions are based on this international standard.
1. Has your country committed to the international standards on transparency and exchange of information in tax matters?
2. Does your country ensure availability of ownership and identity information for companies, partnerships, trusts and foundations?
3. Does your country ensure availability of reliable accounting information?
4. Does your country have enforcement provisions to ensure the availability of ownership and accounting information?
5. Does your country ensure the availability of banking information for all account holders and does it provide access to banking information for tax purpose?
6. Do the (tax) authorities have sufficient powers to obtain and provide information from any person within their territorial jurisdiction who is in control or possession of such information?
7. Are there appropriate limits on professional secrecy in your jurisdiction? Is legal professional privilege limited to confidential communications between attorneys, solicitors or other legal representatives in their role as such and their clients?
8. Does your country have in place legal mechanisms for the exchange of information for tax purposes with other countries and do these mechanisms allow for the use of information received under these mechanisms for other purposes involving serious crimes such as the prosecution of corruption cases?