International tax is technical in nature and in high political focus. The media and civil society pay close attention to international tax matters, and governments are taking decisive action to tackle tax evasion and avoidance and ensure all taxpayers pay their fair share. Central to this effort is ensuring that countries implement the internationally agreed standards for co-operation between tax authorities, including providing particular information for specific tax investigations and a broad range of information automatically on financial accounts and assets held offshore. There are also further minimum standards to ensure multinational enterprises pay appropriate levels of tax.
The OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, with its 147 members, supports the fight against tax evasion by ensuring the effective implementation of the international standards on tax transparency and exchange of ownership, accounting and financial account information (both “on request”, and “automatically”).
The OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) and its 108 members tackles tax avoidance by ensuring the implementation of the measures agreed through the BEPS Project, which targets multinational enterprises’ aggressive tax planning practices. In particular, four “minimum standards” are at the core of the BEPS measures: harmful tax practices, treaty abuse, country-by-country reporting and dispute resolution mechanisms.
Both the Global Forum and the Inclusive Framework (as regard its four minimum standards) have put peer reviews in place, a process through which all members are assessing each other’s implementation of the agreed standards. While the Global Forum’s process has been in place since 2010 for exchange of information on request and has produced comprehensive ratings, the review of the implementation of the BEPS minimum standards and the implementation of AEOI is more recent and so the results of evaluations and recommendations for improvement are in an earlier stage.