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OECD Happy With Efforts To Promote Tax Transparency, But Urges More Action

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

01 June 2006

International co-operation is helping governments around the world to combat tax cheating through improved transparency and exchange of information in tax matters but there are still gaps that need to be plugged, a new report by the OECD’s Global Forum on Taxation has concluded.

According to the OECD, the survey shows that countries continue to improve their international cooperation to combat tax abuse by putting in place mechanisms which enhance transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.

Many of the economies reviewed have enhanced transparency by introducing rules on customer due diligence, information gathering powers and the immobilisation of bearer shares.

Most have entered into double taxation conventions and/or tax information exchange agreements, and many are engaged in negotiations for such agreements.

The OECD also noted that none of its member countries, and very few non-members, now make domestic tax interests a condition for responding to a treaty partner’s request for information on a specific taxpayer.

However, the Organisation argues that more progress can be made to improve global tax transparency, and stated that some countries still place constraints on international co-operation to counter criminal tax matters and a number continue to impose strict limits on access to bank information in civil tax matters.

"The direction of change is clear," Paolo Ciocca, Chair of the OECD’s Committee of Fiscal Affairs and Co-Chair of the Global Forum stated.

"Onshore and offshore financial centres are prepared to work towards the implementation of mutually agreed standards. I look forward to the day when the centres that have met these standards are joined by other jurisdictions that have not yet achieved them," he added.

Leasi P. T. Scanlan, Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa and also a Co-Chair of the Global Forum, said the report demonstrated the ability of OECD and non-OECD countries to co-operate in order to prevent their financial centres being misused for illegal tax avoidance and evasion.

"This has been a huge undertaking but we now have a clear idea of where we stand. It is an important step in helping countries to work towards a level playing field so that these abuses do not simply shift from one financial centre to another," he observed.

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