28/01/2011 - The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax purposes, hosted by the OECD, has released ten reports which evaluate jurisdictions’ commitment to tax transparency and examine whether information is made available and accessible to foreign tax authorities. These reports follow eight others released in September 2010.
“These ten reports continue our work to monitor the compliance of jurisdictions with international standards”, said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “They also underline the importance of the review process the Global Forum has undertaken with the support of the OECD to ensure the advancement of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.”
The Global Forum has been mandated by the G-20 to assist specific jurisdictions, as well as the international community, to assess the status of national tax legislation, examine whether the laws are enforced, and make recommendations for improvement.
For five jurisdictions the Global Forum is releasing Phase 1 reports which assess the legal and regulatory framework of the jurisdictions. The other five combine Phase 1 and Phase 2 reviews assessing both the legal framework and the practical implementation of the standard.
Phase 1 reviews
Four jurisdictions, Barbados, the Seychelles, San Marino and Trinidad and Tobago fall short of the international standard and will need to implement the recommendations made in their reports before moving to the next phase of their evaluations. It has been noted in the case of San Marino that important legislation has recently been passed (see annex 1 of the report) and will further be examined by the Global Forum.
The report on Guernsey shows that a satisfactory legal framework is in place but that there are minor issues that Guernsey has been asked to address.
Mauritius underwent a combined review which showed that there are missing elements in the legal framework such as accounting information on some of the offshore companies. The assessment of the practice in Mauritius shows that there is room for improvement, in particular as regards the access to bank information by the tax authorities.
The four other “combined” reviews show that the systems in place in Australia, Denmark, Ireland and Norway have achieved effective exchange of information in practice. However, there are some minor issues related to information on bearer shares or nominees which will have to be addressed.
More than 60 reports will be completed by year end.
Contacts: Jeffrey Owens, Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration at +33 1 45 24 91 08 or firstname.lastname@example.org / Pascal Saint-Amans, Head of the Global Secretariat at + 33 1 45 24 97 46 or email@example.com
The reports at a glance
Phase 1 Reviews: Legal and Regulatory Framework
Barbados: Some deficiencies have been identified in Barbados bilateral treaties and Barbados has not yet signed new agreements with all jurisdictions wishing to do so. The implementation of recommendations made in the report to address these and other matters will be reviewed in the next 12 months, and only then Barbados will be considered for moving onto the next phase of the evaluation.
Guernsey: The review of Guernsey showed that its legal and regulatory framework is largely in place to ensure effective exchange of information, notably sound access powers and an expanding network of bilateral agreements. Improvements to some accounting rules should nevertheless be made. The evaluation of the practical implementation of this framework will take place in 2012.
San Marino: The peer review has identified some deficiencies in the domestic laws of San Marino, notably including limitations in the authorities’ powers to obtain information mainly on civil tax matters for the purpose of international cooperation. As a result it is not yet ready to move to the next stage of the evaluation. San Marino has in the recent months passed a number of laws with a view to overcome these shortcomings. Its position will therefore be reviewed.
Seychelles: The review of the Seychelles showed deficiencies as regards the availability of ownership and accounting information in respect of offshore entities. In addition, powers to access information should be strengthened. Amendments to its legal and regulatory system are necessary in order for the Seychelles to qualify for the next phase of the evaluation.
Trinidad and Tobago : Trinidad and Tobago is party to a number of bilateral treaties and a multilateral convention. However, it is unable to exchange information to the international standard since not all but one of these agreements has restrictions on access to information by Trinidad and Tobago’s tax authorities. The implementation of the recommendations made in the report will be reviewed in the next 12 months, before Trinidad and Tobago is considered for the next phase of the evaluation.
Combined reviews: Legal and regulatory framework and also the implementation of that framework in practice
Australia: Australia is exchanging information to the standard with almost 80 countries. Australia’s legal and institutional framework supports effective access to and provision of information requested by competent authorities of other jurisdictions.
Denmark: Denmark is exchanging information to the standard with almost 100 countries. Denmark’s legal and institutional framework supports effective access to and provision of information requested by competent authorities of other jurisdictions.
Ireland: Ireland is exchanging information to the standard with over 50 countries. Ireland’s legal and institutional framework supports effective access to and provision of information requested by competent authorities of other jurisdictions.
Mauritius : Mauritius has revised its legal and regulatory framework to give its competent authority broad access to most relevant information. However accounting information is not available in all cases and powers to obtain some information are untested. A further analysis will be undertaken in 6 months to assess whether Mauritius exchanges this information effectively and in a timely manner.
Norway : Norway is exchanging information to the standard with more than 100 countries. Norway’s legal and institutional framework supports effective access to and provision of information requested by competent authorities of other jurisdictions.