The Global Forum has adopted nine new peer review reports and three supplementary reports. This brings to 79 the total number of reports adopted, with a further 17 reviews under way. The focus will now shift to exchange of information in practice with the launch of Phase 2 reviews and steps to improve cooperation amongst Competent Authorities.
The progress made by the Global Forum was commended by the G20 leaders in their Communique issued at their Los Cabos Summit yesterday wherein they urged all countries to fully comply with the international standard and directed the Global Forum to quickly start examining the effectiveness of information exchange practices.
The recently adopted preer review reports on Cook Islands, Liberia, Lebanon, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, and United Arab Emirates describe each jurisdictions rules for ensuring that information is available to the tax authorities, how such information can be accessed by the authorities and the mechanisms in place to exchange information with foreign tax authorities. The reviews of the People’s Republic of China and Greece consider in addition whether the jurisdictions’ exchange information effectively in practice. The reviews also identify deficiencies and make recommendations on how to address them.
The three supplementary reports – for Antigua and Barbuda, Estonia, and the Seychelles – assess the changes to legislation that these jurisdictions have made to address recommendations made by the Global Forum in their Phase 1 reviews.
Deficiencies identified in the reports include the lack of available ownership information as regards foreign trusts and bearer shares; incomplete accounting information for some forms of companies, trusts and partnerships, including foreign or international entities; and some limitations to access information, including bank information or information protected by professional secrecy.
In the case of Lebanon, Liberia and United Arab Emirates, the Global Forum considered that the deficiencies in their legal framework are sufficiently significant so as to prevent them from moving to the next stage of the review process, until these deficiencies are addressed.
The supplementary reviews show that the legal and regulatory framework for transparency and exchange of information of all the three jurisdictions has improved. As a result of their supplementary report, Antigua and Barbuda, and Seychelles, which were previously prevented from moving to Phase 2 of their review process can now do so.
Competent Authorities meet to improve exchange
The Global Forum also organised the first meeting of for the authorities directly engaged in international exchange of tax information in practice, in Madrid. The meeting brought together 186 delegates from 78 Global Forum member jurisdictions and 6 international organisations.
All participants reaffirmed their strong commitment to effective information exchange and examined the best ways to improve their relationships. It was clear from the meeting that the competent authorities present are all “upping their game”, putting more resources into their EOI operations and improving management systems and staff training. This will be reflected in improved response times and better quality responses to requests from treaty partners in the future.
Delegates discussed ways to further improve communication between competent authorities, building on existing initiatives aimed at improving cooperation and developing measures to overcome practical impediments to exchange of information.
Peer review reports at a glance:
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