12/03/2009 - Moves by a number of financial centres over recent weeks in favour of transparency and exchange of information on tax matters have given a welcome boost to efforts to counter international tax evasion, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said.
While many jurisdictions still maintain arrangements that prevent them from assisting foreign authorities in tax investigations, recent actions and statements consistent with the OECD standards in this area on the part of some show that real progress is being achieved.
Among other recent moves, Mr. Gurría noted:
Altogether, since G-20 leaders signalled their determination at their summit in Washington last November to combat cross-border tax evasion, more than 20 bilateral tax information exchange agreements have been signed between different partners.
Mr. Gurría welcomed these developments, noting that “ending the abuse of banking secrecy arrangements that facilitate tax evasion is part of a broader drive to clean up one of the more controversial sides of a globalised economy.” He added that “the support of the G-20 for efforts to improve transparency and exchange of information has underscored their relevance for both developed and developing countries.”
Good access to information is a prerequisite for the effective and fair application of each country’s tax laws. The OECD standards in this area provide for an exchange of information between tax authorities on request in cases of specific inquiries into suspected tax evaders. They prohibit so-called “fishing expeditions” and are designed to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged.
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