The 33 committed jurisdictions and OECD countries (collectively referred to as Participating Partners) work together under the auspices of the OECD’s Global Forum on Taxation to develop the international standards for transparency and effective exchange of information in tax matters.
Through their work on transparency, the Participating Partners seek to ensure that the information needed by tax authorities to determine a taxpayer’s correct tax liability is available (e.g., that there are reliable books and records available). This work is carried out through the Joint Ad Hoc Group on Accounts.
With regard to exchange of information in tax matters, the OECD encourages countries to adopt information exchange on an “upon request” basis. Exchange of information upon request describes a situation where a competent authority of one country asks the competent authority of another country for specific information, generally under the authority of a bilateral exchange arrangement between the two countries. An essential element of exchange of information is the implementation of appropriate safeguards to ensure adequate protection of taxpayers’ rights and the confidentiality of their tax affairs. In the area of exchange of information, the Participating Partners worked together to develop a Model Agreement on Information Exchange on Tax Matters that countries can use to guide their bilateral negotiations.
The Participating Partners are also working towards establishing a global level playing field in the areas of transparency and effective exchange of information in tax matters. Toward this end, they met in Ottawa, Canada in October 2003 (see Closing Statement by Co-Chairs ) and established a Sub-Group on Level Playing Field Issues to develop proposals for consideration by the full Global Forum.
The Sub- Group developed a set of proposals and these proposals were endorsed at a Global Forum meeting in Berlin, Germany in June 2004. At this meeting representatives of 42 governments, both OECD and non-OECD approved a joint report on how to achieve their common objective of a global level playing field based on high standards of transparency and effective exchange of information.
The report contemplates actions of an individual, bilateral and a collective nature. Regarding the collective aspects of the process the Global Forum agreed to carry out a review of the transparency and information exchange practices currently applied by all OECD countries, the 33 Non-OECD Participating Partners as well as other significant financial centres. The Global Forum also invited other financial centres to participate in its work.
>> Visit the new website of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes: www.oecd.org/tax/transparency