The cover of the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information The Common Reporting Standard (CRS), developed in response to the G20 request and approved by the OECD Council on 15 July 2014, calls on jurisdictions to obtain information from their financial institutions and automatically exchange that information with other jurisdictions on an annual basis. It sets out the financial account information to be exchanged, the financial institutions required to report, the different types of accounts and taxpayers covered, as well as common due diligence procedures to be followed by financial institutions.

 

The Standard consists of the following four key parts: 

Further guidance

  • The OECD maintains and regularly updates a list of CRS-related Frequently Asked Questions. These FAQs were received from business and government delegates and answers to such questions clarify the CRS and assist in ensuring consistency in implementation.
  • In addition to the CRS, the OECD has published the CRS Implementation Handbook, which, although not part of the CRS, provides a practical guide to implementing the CRS to both government officials and financial institutions and includes a comparison between the CRS and FATCA.

Maintaining the integrity of the CRS

The CRS was designed with a broad scope in terms of the financial information to be reported, the Account Holders subject to reporting and the Financial Institutions required to report, in order to limit the opportunities for taxpayers to circumvent reporting. It also requires that jurisdictions, as part of their effective implementation of the Standard, put in place anti-abuse rules to prevent any practices intended to circumvent the reporting and due diligence procedures.

Have your say!

To further preserve the integrity of the CRS, it is now possible to share information on potential CRS avoidance schemes, including on an anonymous basis. This disclosure facility is part of a wider structured process the OECD has in place to deal with schemes that purport to avoid reporting under the CRS, consisting of the following three pillars:

Intelligence gathering

The OECD has established reliable information channels (including government representatives, business associations, financial institutions, civil society organisations and whistle-blowers) to continuously gather and improve intelligence on any actual and perceived weaknesses that are discussed in the market place.

Interested persons who have identified potential shortcomings of the CRS can report those to the OECD on the AEOI portal. All such intelligence is being compiled and discussed in the responsible OECD Committees.

Analysis

All actual or perceived loopholes that are brought to our attention are systematically analysed with a view to assessing the risk they present to the overall integrity and effectiveness of the CRS. Issues that are presented in the market place as loopholes differ in nature and could either be:

  • deliberate policy decisions, often inspired by the need to keep due diligence and reporting obligation at a balanced and reasonable level (e.g. the application of thresholds under which certain accounts are not subject to due diligence or reporting or the possibility to rely on existing AML/KYC Procedures with respect to Preexisting Accounts in order to identify Controlling Persons of Passive NFEs). Even though those features are deliberate policy decisions, a continued monitoring is necessary as to whether the right balance is struck between the objective pursued by those policy decisions and the risk that they may lead to circumvention of the CRS;
  • cases of a wrong understanding of the CRS, either by Financial Institutions or governments in the framework of domestic implementation of the CRS; and
  • unintended potential loopholes that need be addressed.

Taking into account the risk assessment and the nature of each issue raised, the OECD will determine the most appropriate course of action to take with respect to a perceived or actual loophole.

Action

Appropriate courses of action for each loophole are agreed within the responsible OECD Committee, including:

  • ongoing development of public guidance to ensure an accurate application and coherent implementation of the CRS (e.g. to address cases of wrong understanding of the CRS);
  • ongoing sharing amongst governments of products, structures and arrangements used to try circumventing the CRS (e.g. particular insurance products; schemas relying on certificates of residence obtained through residence by investment programs), as well as particular risk areas in the CRS;
  • provide governments with intelligence to carry out targeted audits and/or engage in enhanced information exchange and collaboration, making use of all available tools such as group requests and spontaneous exchanges of information (including through the JITSIC network);
  • development of best practice "anti-abuse" provisions which jurisdictions can adopt to prevent any Financial Institutions, persons or intermediaries from adopting practices intended to circumvent the reporting and due diligence procedures; and
  • collaboration with the Global Forum, which is mandated to identify and address cases of inadequate country implementation of the CRS.

In addition to the above, the OECD is evaluating the need to adopt any required modifications to the Standard and/or the Commentaries.