Co-operation between tax administrations is critical in the fight against tax evasion and a key aspect of that cooperation is exchange of information. Political interest has increasingly focussed on the opportunities provided by automatic exchange of information. On 19 April 2013 the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors endorsed automatic exchange as the expected new standard and asked the OECD working with G20 countries to report on progress in developing a new multilateral standard on automatic exchange of information. On 18 June 2013 the OECD presented a report to the G8 Summit on delivering a standardised and global model of automatic exchange. In September 2013 G20 Leaders fully endorsed the OECD proposal for a truly global model of automatic exchange and invited the OECD working with G20 countries to present such a new single standard for automatic exchange of information in time for the February 2014 meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.
Automatic exchange of information involves the systematic and periodic transmission of “bulk” taxpayer information by the source country to the residence country concerning various categories of income (e.g. dividends, interest, royalties, salaries, pensions, etc). It can provide timely information on non-compliance where tax has been evaded either on an investment return or the underlying capital sum even where tax administrations have had no previous indications of non-compliance.
Standardised Model of Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information
On 13 February 2014 the OECD released the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information that 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 that need to report, the different types of accounts and taxpayers covered, as well as common due diligence procedures to be followed by financial institutions.
The advantage of standardisation is process simplification, higher effectiveness and lower costs for all stakeholders concerned. A proliferation of different and inconsistent models would potentially impose significant costs on both government and business to collect the necessary information and operate the different models.
A standardised multilateral automatic exchange model requires a legal basis for the exchange of information. There are different legal bases upon which automatic exchange could take place, including a bilateral treaty with , or the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
All treaties and exchange of information instruments contain provisions regarding tax confidentiality and the obligation to keep information exchanged as secret or confidential. The OECD released a Guide on Confidentiality, which sets out best practices related to confidentiality and provides practical guidance on how to meet an adequate level of protection.
Finally, the development of for reporting and exchange of information is a critical element in a standardised exchange system – especially one that will be used by a large number of countries and financial institutions.
Video: Interview with OECD Secretary-General on G8’s support of the OECD work on automatic exchange
For further information on automatic exchange of information:
OECD calls on G20 finance ministers to support next steps in clampdown on tax avoidance