Exchange of information

First meeting of the Global Forum’s peer review group on the effective implementation of automatic exchange of tax information


19/03/2020 - The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes recently established an Automatic Exchange of Information Peer Review Group (APRG) to take forward its work on ensuring the effective implementation of the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters (the AEOI Standard). Comprised of 34 Global Forum members, the APRG held its first meeting on 16-18 March 2020 to discuss key issues in ensuring that jurisdictions are putting in place what is required to deliver an effective AEOI Standard (see the AEOI Terms of Reference), as well as how the recent developments in relation to Covid-19 might impact expectations.

Due to the developing emergency, and in compliance with the announcements made by the Government of France – the Global Forum’s host country – on steps being taken to contain the epidemic, this was the first ever Global Forum meeting to be conducted entirely remotely. With members of the APRG stretching from New Zealand to Colombia, and with Canada as its Chair, around 90 delegates from all around the world successfully participated in the virtual meeting, and made substantive progress on this important agenda.

Overall the meeting resulted in substantial progress being made to establish the framework to finalise the first round of peer reviews in relation to the AEOI Standard, both with respect to the legal assessments conducted over recent years and the effectiveness in practice reviews that are due to commence shortly, as well as to enhance the Global Forum’s work on ensuring the information exchanged is kept confidential. This framework will be further developed by the APRG in the coming months. More specifically:

  • Day one focused on issues with respect to confidentiality and data safeguards, where there was broad consensus to enhance the Global Forum’s processes to obtain comfort that jurisdictions are keeping the information exchanged safe, as well as further strengthening the Global Forum’s plan in the event of breaches in confidentiality.

  • Day two consisted of technical discussions that took forward a framework to determine the materiality of the legal gaps identified so conclusions can be drawn on the extent to which each jurisdiction has the necessary legal frameworks in place, which will conclude the reviews of the legal frameworks that have been conducted over recent years.

  • Day three focused on how it will be concluded whether each jurisdiction has implemented the AEOI Standard effectively in practice, following the conclusion of the peer reviews that are about to commence on this matter. A proposed framework was discussed and areas where it could be further developed were identified. The potential impact of Covid-19 on this work was a key issue in the discussions.

With many jurisdictions having commenced exchanges under the AEOI Standard in 2017 and with the first widespread exchanges amongst almost 100 jurisdictions in 2018, covering total assets of USD 4.9 trillion, the move to AEOI has been a step change in the international community’s ability to improve tax compliance and to fight against tax evasion through individuals and entities holding undeclared financial accounts abroad.

Further details on the implementation of the standard on the automatic exchange of information on offshore financial accounts can be found in the 2019 AEOI Implementation Report.

The Global Forum Secretariat would like to express its sincere thanks to its members and to all those involved in helping make this remote meeting a success.

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