David Cameron, British prime minister, has called a meeting this month ahead of
the G-8 summit, with the senior ministers of 10 British tax havens, known
Dependencies and Overseas Territories, in London to force them to tackle the
huge tax evasion industry by signing up to agreements to share tax information.
Britain holds the presidency of the G-8 this year and the UK has made a
clampdown on corporate and individual tax avoidance an important item of agenda,
following controversy about the high level of avoidance in Britain by companies
such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Starbucks.
Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, USA and UK will
meet at Lough Erne, County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland on 17-18 June.
Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland, regularly cite British tax havens in
defending their own.
The UK government has already won agreement from the tax
havens to support new disclosure rules introduced by the US. Last
Osborne, chancellor, hailed “a turning point in the fight against tax evasion
and illicit finance” after the offshore locations signed up to automatic
Now the government is seeking agreement on the swapping
information with a wider group of countries and to draw up plans for central
registries that contain details of the true ownership and control of every
Cameron wrote to the tax havens in May saying
he wanted the G8 to "knock down the walls of company secrecy" to reveal who
really owns and controls firms.
The tax havens include:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Turks and Caicos
- The Isle of Man
Prime Minister’s letter
"As you know, I have made fighting the scourge of tax evasion and aggressive tax
avoidance a priority for the G8 Summit which the UK is hosting next month. With
one month to go, this is the critical moment to get our own houses in order. I
am looking to all the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to continue to
work in partnership with the UK in taking the lead on two critical issues: tax
information exchange and beneficial ownership.
Let me set out exactly why. I have said before that I want to see the Overseas
Territories and Crown Dependencies flourish, and I respect your right to be
lower tax jurisdictions. I believe passionately in lower taxes as a vital driver
of growth and prosperity for all. But lower taxes are only sustainable if what
is owed is actually paid - and if the rules to achieve this are set and enforced
fairly to create a level playing field right across the world. There is no point
in dealing with tax evasion in one country if the problem is simply displaced to
So I very much welcome the commitments you have made to automatic tax
information exchange, both on a bilateral and multilateral basis, which will
help us to reach our goal of setting a global standard in tax transparency.
There is a critical mass building. Last week’s European Finance Ministers
meeting showed that the EU is getting on board. And I hope others around the
world will follow the lead we are setting together.
We also need to ensure information exchange works effectively for all,
particularly the poorest countries in the world. That is why we strongly support
the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters. I know many of
you have been considering joining and I ask you all to commit to do so in the
run-up to the G8 Summit.
But dealing with tax evasion is not just about exchanging information. It is
also about improving the quality and accuracy of that information. Put simply,
that means we need to know who really owns and controls each and every company.
This goes right to the heart of the ambition of Britain’s G8 to knock down the
walls of company secrecy.
Some of you have already led the way with public commitments to produce Action
Plans on beneficial ownership - and I hope those who have yet to can do so as
quickly as possible. Getting the right content in these plans will now be
critical. These will need to provide for fully resourced and properly managed
centralised registries, that are freely available to law enforcement and tax
collectors, and contain full and accurate details on the true ownership and
control of every company.
As we continue our negotiations over the coming weeks, I look forward to working
with you to ensure we fully meet the spirit as well as the letter of the
Financial Action Task Force standards on beneficial ownership. The UK is hosting
a high level event on 15 June to showcase progress on tax, trade and
transparency, and I hope you can join us on the day to showcase the progress you
have made. This is a real opportunity to set the global standard on transparency
- and I am confident the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will rise
to the challenge."
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