About the Global Forum
The Global Forum has been the multilateral framework within which work in the area transparency and exchange of information has been carried out by both OECD and non-OECD economies since 2000. The Global Forum’s main achievements have been the development of the standards of transparency and exchange of information through the publication of the Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Purposes in 2002 and the issuance of a paper setting out the standards for the maintenance of accounting records Enabling Effective Exchange of Information: Availability Standard and Reliability Standard developed by the Joint Ad Hoc Group on Accounts in 2005.
The Global Forum meeting in Mexico on 1 and 2 September 2009 was a turning point in the global progress to improve transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. In response to the G20 Leaders’ call for jurisdictions to adopt high standards of transparency and information exchange in tax matters, the Global Forum was restructured as a consensus based organisation where all members are on an equal footing. All OECD countries, G20 economies and jurisdictions participating in the existing Global Forum were invited to become members.
With an ambitious agenda to improve transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes, the Global Forum agreed on a three-year mandate to promote the rapid implementation of the Standards through the peer review of all its members and other jurisdictions relevant to its work. The Global Forum is chaired by Mr Kosie Louw, from South Africa.
>> The Standards require:
- Existence of mechanisms for exchange of information upon request.
- Availability of reliable information (in particular bank, ownership, identity and accounting information) and powers to obtain and provide such information in response to a specific request in a timely manner.
- Respect for safeguards and limitations and strict confidentiality rules for information exchanged.
The Global Forum now includes 126 member jurisdictions and the European Union, together with 15 observers, making it the largest tax group in the world. Membership of the Global Forum is open to all jurisdictions willing to: (i) commit to implement the international standard on transparency and exchange of information on request, (ii) participate and contribute to the peer review process, and (iii) contribute to the budget. Its current membership includes all G20 countries, OECD member countries, off-shore financial centres and many developing countries, all of whom have committed to adhere to the international standard. The procedure for becoming a member of the Global Forum is simple. A request letter of membership (English template) signed by an authorised person in the government should be sent to the Global Forum Secretariat.
There are multiple benefits in joining the Global Forum. First, it ensures participation in a unique forum where all financial centres are present, which considerably enhances developing countries' ability to negotiate information exchange agreements. Second, the Global Forum is a unique source of expertise on transparency for tax purposes. All Global Forum members have found that the peer review process provides an opportunity to reflect on how their legal frameworks can be improved. Third, to help in improving their legal framework for transparency and exchange of information members may benefit from assistance which the Global Forum may provide directly or in partnership with other providers. Fourth, by monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the new global standard on AEOI, the Global Forum help its members to recover tax revenue lost to non-compliant taxpayers, and further strengthen international efforts to increase transparency, cooperation, and accountability among financial institutions and tax administrations. Additionally, AEOI will generate secondary benefits by increasing voluntary disclosures of concealed assets and by encouraging taxpayers to report all relevant information. Fifth, being a member of the Global Forum provides your jurisdiction with international visibility and heightens their profile as a reliable locations in which to do business. It should also assist in the fight against corruption and money laundering. Finally, all members have an equal voice in the decision making process of the Global Forum as all decisions are taken by consensus.
The Global Forum Secretariat
The Global Forum has a self-standing dedicated Secretariat, based in the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. Over the years, the Secretariat has been expanded to include 27 staff members with diverse national backgrounds and experience, which includes both directly hired staff and secondees provided by Global Forum members. The OECD Council decision establishing the Global Forum exceptionally provides for nationals of non-OECD member countries to be able to join the Global Forum Secretariat, and staff members who are nationals of Brazil, Cameroon, Hong Kong (China), India and Russia have been hired. Secondees have been provided by Bermuda, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, and the British Virgin Islands. France, Jersey and India have made voluntary contributions. Staff at the Global Forum Secretariat comes from 18 different jurisdictions, and speaks 12 languages: Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The Global Forum Secretariat is headed by Ms Monica Bhatia from India since 2012.
See the Global Forum organisational chart
Peer reviews are the Global Forum’s main activity. The peer review process evaluates the compliance of a jurisdiction to the international standard of transparency and exchange of information. The international standard provides for exchange on request of foreseeably relevant information for the administration or enforcement of the domestic tax laws of a requesting party. The international standard is reflected in the Terms of Reference of the Global Forum, which identify ten essential elements against which jurisdictions are assessed.
The peer review process is conducted in accordance with the Methodology approved by the Global Forum, and in the order established by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax old site. All members of
the Global Forum, as well as jurisdictions identified by the Global Forum as relevant to its work, are reviewed. Peer reviews take place in two phases: Phase 1 reviews examine the
legal and regulatory framework for transparency and the exchange of information for tax purposes. Phase 2 reviews look into the implementation of the standard in practice. Combined reviews evaluate both the legal and regulatory framework (Phase 1) and the implementation of the standard in practice (Phase 2). The Methodology also provides for Supplementary reviews, which can be launched when a jurisdiction reports significant improvements.
At its Jakarta meeting in November 2013, the Global Forum assigned the ratings for the first 50 jurisdictions that have completed their Phase 1 and Phase 2 reviews. This includes ratings for each of the essential elements as well as an overall rating for each jurisdiction. The assignment of ratings is a crucial part of the peer review process that was established in 2009. In particular, the issuance of anoverall rating achieves both the recognition of progress by jurisdictions toward the implementation of the international standard, and the identification of jurisdictions that are not in step with the international consensus. Nonetheless, in order to act as an incentive for jurisdictions to respond to ratings given by the Global Forum, the peer reviews mechanism remains a dynamic process, which allows for improvements to be publicly recognized in supplementary reviews.
Click to see the updated table of ratings
Next Step: Automatic Exchange of Information
In recognition of the emergence of AEOI as a new global standard that supports and enhances exchange on request, in 2013 the Global Forum established a new voluntary AEOI Group. The AEOI Group comprises Global Forum members and observers who wish to come together to work towards a common goal of engaging in AEOI.
The AEOI Group will take forward the work that the G20 has mandated the Global Forum to do: to monitor and review the implementation of the OECD Standard on AEOI; and to help developing countries identify their need for technical assistance and capacity building in order to participate in and benefit from AEOI. The AEOI Group will continue to liaise with, and draw on the experience of, the OECD, the World Bank Group, the G20 and others.
In 2014 – 2015, the AEOI Group will propose the terms of reference and a methodology for monitoring the implementation of AEOI on a going-forward basis. The AEOI Group will also work to identify the foundations needed for jurisdictions to implement AEOI, having regard to capacity constraints, resource limitations and the need to ensure confidentiality and the proper use of information exchanged.
The AEOI Group will report back to the Global Forum plenary on its activities on a regular basis and decisions will continue to be made by the Global Forum.