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G20 Agree To Harmonised Tax Information Sharing Initiative

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

23 November 2004


The G20 group of major industrialised nations and emerging economies at the weekend rubber-stamped an initiative aimed at standardising the exchange of tax information across national borders.

The agreement reached at the G20 summit in Berlin means that all governments will adopt the standard OECD protocol when exchanging information on tax matters, a move that German Finance Minister Hans Eichel declared was a “big step forward,” in the fight against harmful tax practices.

A joint communiqué released by the group of G20 governments, which is currently chaired by Germany, stated that: “We reaffirmed our commitment to fight the abuse of the international financial system in all forms.”

It continued: “To this end, we have committed ourselves to the high standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes that have been developed by the OECD’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs as set out in the attached statement.”

The statement went on to add that effective exchange of information will be conducted through legal mechanisms such as bilateral treaties, and urged jurisdictions outside of the OECD to “follow our lead and take necessary steps” to allow access to banking and entity ownership information.

In addition to the G7 group of nations, the G20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.

Representatives from the European Union, the European Central Bank, the IMF and the World Bank were also present at the summit.

The chair of the G20 will next year pass to China.

A comprehensive report on the OECD, FATF and other ‘offshore’ initiatives, including the EU’s Savings Tax Directive is available in the Tax News Reports Shop at http://www.tax-news.com/reportshop/
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