In series:Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes: Peer Reviewsview more titles
Published on October 30, 2015
This report contains the 2014 “Phase 2: Implementation of the Standards in Practice” Global Forum review of Samoa.
The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes is the multilateral framework within which work in the area of tax transparency and exchange of information is carried out by over 120 jurisdictions which participate in the work of the Global Forum on an equal footing.
The Global Forum is charged with in-depth monitoring and peer review of the implementation of the standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. These standards are primarily reflected in the 2002 OECD Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters and its commentary, and in Article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital and its commentary as updated in 2004, which has been incorporated in the UN Model Tax Convention.
The standards provide for international exchange on request of foreseeably relevant information for the administration or enforcement of the domestic tax laws of a requesting party. “Fishing expeditions” are not authorised, but all foreseeably relevant information must be provided, including bank information and information held by fiduciaries, regardless of the existence of a domestic tax interest or the application of a dual criminality standard.
All members of the Global Forum, as well as jurisdictions identified by the Global Forum as relevant to its work, are being reviewed. This process is undertaken in two phases. Phase 1 reviews assess the quality of a jurisdiction’s legal and regulatory framework for the exchange of information, while Phase 2 reviews look at the practical implementation of that framework. Some Global Forum members are undergoing combined – Phase 1 plus Phase 2 – reviews. The ultimate goal is to help jurisdictions to effectively implement the international standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.
The Phase 2 review rates Samoa as overall partially compliant with the international standard of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. Samoa has an exchange of information network with 17 jurisdictions, including major trading partners. Following its Phase 1 review, Samoa enacted significant improvements to its legal framework, including the abolition of bearer shares and new obligations for entities and arrangements to maintain accounting records in accordance with the standard. However, the review finds that the oversight and enforcement of the legal framework with respect to ownership and accounting information should be more rigorous. Samoa experienced some initial challenges in answering EOI requests in a timely manner due to a lack of internal processes. However, Samoa has since created an EOI unit with clear procedures and governance and the timeliness in answering more recent EOI requests has dramatically improved. Samoa welcomed the review and expressed its strong commitment to acting on the recommendations made in the report. For further information on the exchange of information practice of Samoa and to read the full report click here.