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Global Forum Gives Singapore A Pass Mark

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

17 April 2013

The Ministry of Finance has disclosed that the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) has affirmed that Singapore's exchange of information (EOI) regime is in line with the internationally-agreed standard.

It was noted that the Phase 1 and Phase 2 peer review reports of Singapore, which comprehensively examined Singapore's legal and regulatory framework for transparency and exchange of information, as well as the practical implementation of that framework, were adopted by the Global Forum on June 1, 2011 and April 2, 2013 respectively.

The Phase 2 peer review report noted that Singapore has extensive laws for registration and licensing requirements which, coupled with broad tax filing and reporting obligations, should guarantee that ownership and identity information is available for all types of companies, partnerships and trusts.

Furthermore, in practice, compliance with those filing and reporting obligations is ensured by supervisory and enforcement measures by the Singaporean authorities. It was said that overall compliance with the obligations is very high in practice.

In addition, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), Singapore's competent authority, was found to have broad powers to access and obtain information from any person who holds it, including the powers to search premises and seize information and to obtain written statements from relevant persons.

Singapore was also seen to exchange information with its EOI partners in an effective and timely manner. It was considered to have in place appropriate organizational processes and resources, and IRAS is sufficiently resourced and staffed to ensure that information is exchanged in a timely manner. It was confirmed that Singapore has provided the requested information in more than 300 requests over the last three years.

Singapore is considered by its peers as an important and reliable EOI partner. Since its endorsement of the internationally-agreed EOI Standard in March 2009, Singapore has actively sought to incorporate the Standard into its double taxation agreements (DTAs). It has signed 41 DTAs which incorporate the Standard, and stands ready to update the 34 remaining agreements with the Standard, as and when its partners are ready.

This was confirmed to be in line with the Global Forum's previous suggestion for Singapore to continue to update and expand its network of EOI partners.

Singapore's representative to the Global Forum, Chia-Tern Huey Min, said: "The peer review assessment by the Global Forum has affirmed that Singapore’s EOI regime is in line with the international standard for transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes. This signifies the international community's recognition of Singapore's role as a responsible financial center and its commitment to combat cross-border tax evasion through effective exchange of information."

TAGS: compliance | Finance | tax | tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) | double tax agreement (DTA) | tax compliance | law | trusts | Singapore | enforcement | agreements | standards

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