24/05/2007 - The United Kingdom became the 15th country to sign the joint OECD-Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters at a signing ceremony hosted by Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, on 24 May 2007 at OECD headquarters.
The Convention strengthens the ability of tax administrations to work together to enforce their national tax laws, while respecting the fundamental rights of taxpayers. The Convention provides for a variety of forms of multilateral administrative co-operation between parties in the assessment and collection of taxes, including VAT.
The Secretary-General welcomed the move by the United Kingdom: “I am pleased to see the growing interest in this Convention, which in many ways was ahead of its time. Increasingly, tax administrations are finding that bilateral tax co-operation is insufficient to tackle the tax administration issues of today’s open and more integrated economy. The Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters provides one of the most comprehensive and efficient instruments to counteract international non compliance. The benefits of the Convention increase as more and more countries ratify it, particularly when you have major players like the United Kingdom sign on. I hope we will see more countries joining the Convention in the near future.”
The move had been announced by Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in November 2005 as part of his Pre Budget Report. The Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo, when introducing the enabling legislation in Parliament, highlighted the main reasons the United Kingdom had decided to sign the Convention: “while the UK has an extensive network of bilateral treaties, extending mutual assistance arrangements with countries outside the European Union will support our efforts to ensure compliance and help to tackle tax fraud, an issue about which we have been very concerned."
The Parties to the Convention are: Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United States. Canada and Ukraine have signed the Convention and are still in the process of ratification.
For further information, please contact: Jeffrey Owens, Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD (tel.: +33 1 45 24 91 08), Press Division, Council of Europe (tel.: +33 3 88 41 25 60) and in the United Kingdom, Rachel Gibbons, Press Attaché, HM Treasury, (tel.: +44 207 147 2316).