2/09/2009 - Today, on the eve of the Pittsburgh G20 meeting, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information dealing with tax matters, took major steps to confirm the end of the era of banking secrecy as a shield for tax evaders. Read the summary of outcomes in full.
Hailing the breakthrough OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said “what we are witnessing is nothing short of a revolution. By addressing the challenges posed by the dark side of the tax world, the campaign for global tax transparency is in full flow. We have equipped ourselves with the institutional means to continue the campaign. With the crisis, global public opinion’s expectations are high, their tolerance of non-compliance is zero and we must deliver”.
Interview with Angel Gurría on progress in the fight against tax evasion
Representatives from the Forum which now numbers almost 90 jurisdictions around the world and a host of International Organisations gathering in Mexico, took concrete steps to empower the Global Forum to play the leading role in the global campaign to fight tax evasion.
Building on the extraordinary progress made in the last few months to incorporate the globally accepted standards developed by the OECD in both new and existing agreements, the Forum took the following key decisions:
Teeth: to put in place a robust, comprehensive and global monitoring and peer review process to ensure that members implement their commitments; a Peer Review Group has been established to examine the legal and administrative framework in each jurisdiction and practical implementation of these standards. A first report on monitoring progress will be issued by end 2009.
Extended Global Reach: to further expand its membership and to enshrine the principle that all members enjoy equal footing.
Faster Agreements: to speed up the process of negotiating and concluding information exchange agreements including exploring new multilateral avenues.
Developing country assistance: to put in place a coordinated technical assistance program to assist smaller jurisdictions to implement the standards rapidly.
In its Assessment of Tax Co-operation in 2009 issued on Monday “OECD assessment shows bank secrecy as a shield for tax evaders coming to an end”) the Global Forum highlighted that the standards on transparency and exchange of information pioneered by the OECD are now almost universally accepted and that extraordinary progress has already been made towards their full implementation.
The Global Forum’s conclusions will be reported to the G20 Finance ministers who will be meeting in London on 4-5 September and to the meeting of the G20 Leaders Summit in Pittsburgh on 24-25 September.
The Forum also agreed on the need to convene regularly, with the next meeting scheduled for 2010.
The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information was created in 2000 to provide an inclusive forum for achieving high standards of transparency and exchange of information in a way that is equitable and permits fair competition between all jurisdictions, large and small, developed and developing. The initial group of jurisdictions numbered 32. It now brings together almost 90 jurisdictions. It has been the driving force behind the development and acceptance of these international standards. The 2009 Global Forum meeting was its fifth, the last taking place in 2005.
In 2002, Global Forum members worked together to draft a Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters which is now used as a basis for bilateral agreements. Since 2006, the Global Forum has published annual assessments of the legal and administrative frameworks for transparency and exchange of information in more than 80 countries.
Since the London G20 meeting in April, over 50 new Tax Information Exchange Agreements have been signed (doubling the total number of Agreements signed since 2000) and over 40 double taxation conventions have been signed.
As a consequence, a further 6 jurisdictions have since substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standards.