Taking an important step towards
greater transparency and putting an end to banking secrecy in tax matters, the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Monday released the full version of a new global standard for the exchange
of information between jurisdictions. It also announced that €37bn in
taxes has been collected since 2009 by governments, from tax evaders who had
funds hidden in tax havens.
"Today's launch moves us closer to a world in which tax cheats have nowhere left
to hide," Angel Gurria, OECD secretary general, said in a statement.
The standard provides for the automatic exchange of financial account
information between governments on an annual basis, he added and the information could include balances, interest, dividends and sales proceeds
from financial assets as reported to governments by financial institutions.
The new consolidated version includes commentary and guidance for
implementation by governments and financial institutions, detailed model
agreements, as well as standards for harmonised technical and information
technology solutions, notably a standard format and requirements for secure
transmission of data.
More than 65 countries and jurisdictions, including
leading financial centres, Switzerland and Singapore, (see list below) have already publicly
committed to implementation, while more than 40 have committed to a specific and
ambitious timetable leading to the first automatic information exchanges in
2017. This includes a group of OECD and non-OECD countries which have adhered to
Declaration on Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters
well as a group of
Most of the amount of €37bn was collected through disclosure schemes
for tax dodgers and since 2009, tax authorities have been able to request information about offshore
accounts but only when there are reasons for suspicion. The
automatic information exchange which begins in 2017 will make it much easier for
the authorities to find evaders.
Christian Aid senior economic adviser, said
today: “There is an estimated US$9trillion of developing country taxpayers
assets held offshore, revenues from which should be a significant source of
financing for development. But thanks to the decisions of the OECD many
developing countries are likely to have to wait much longer to be able to
enforce their own tax systems.
“While there are some things to welcome in today’s announcement, it will be too
easy for developing countries to be excluded. As well as the fact that admission
to the multilateral process can be vetoed without reason by any country, there
is no mechanism for allowing developing countries to opt out of the requirement
to provide information temporarily until they have the capacity to do so.
“This would be a simple way to show the process was actively encouraging
developing country participation and to enable them to benefit as quickly as
Pascal Saint-Amans, the
head of tax at the OECD, said technical assistance
would be in place to support less developed countries so they can benefit from the
move to greater transparency. He said: “Developing countries are not going to be
Countries and jurisdictions publicly committed to
implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information: Andorra, Anguilla,
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands,
Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Colombia,
Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands,
Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, India,
Indonesia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Korea, Latvia,
Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Montserrat,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation,
Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, Turkey, Turks & Caicos Islands, United Kingdom, and United States,
and the European Union.