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OECD Reports On Its Progress With International Tax Standards

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

20 January 2010


According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the focus of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information is now shifting – from commitments and agreements to achieving an effective implementation of the standards.

The OECD says its standard has been universally endorsed in 2009 as the four OECD countries (Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland) which were in opposition, lifted their reservation to Article 26 of the OECD Model.

The three non-cooperative tax havens which refused to endorse the standard (Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco) finally did so in March 2009. The four Global Forum jurisdictions which had not committed to implement the standard by April 2, 2009 (Costa Rica, Malaysia, Philippines and Uruguay) did so soon after this date, says the OECD.

Non-OECD countries which expressed a reservation to Article 26 withdrew their reservation, including Brazil, Chile and Thailand. As the UN also endorsed the new version of Article 26, the OECD believes that the standard can now be considered as the internationally agreed standard.

The OECD reports that Austria, Andorra, the Bahamas, Chile, Hong Kong, China, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Singapore and Macao (China) have passed legislation aimed at implementing their commitments to the international tax standard. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Malaysia and the Philippines have initiated important legislative changes intended to allow them to meet the international tax standards.

Since its Progress Report on April 2, 2009, the OECD has moved 19 jurisdictions – Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Bahrain, the Cayman Islands, Chile, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands Antilles, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, and the Turks and Caicos Islands – to the category of jurisdictions having substantially implemented the standard.

The OECD now regards as a key issue how developing countries can best be supported to take advantage of the more transparent international environment, and to strengthen their tax systems. International organizations and bilateral donors can help developing countries to:

  • Enter into exchange of information agreements for tax purposes, including through multilateral mechanisms where possible in order to ensure quick implementation;
  • Create administrative structures to implement exchange of information mechanisms and to protect the confidentiality of information exchanged;
  • Strengthen administrative capacity including audit mechanisms to enable developing countries to request and use information obtained under agreements efficiently and in a way which significantly increases the legitimate enforcement of their tax legislation;
  • Develop and restructure tax systems in broader terms; and
  • Fight corruption and enhance integrity within tax administrations.

These issues are currently being discussed both within the OECD and the Global Forum, as well as in coordination with other international organizations that have an interest in this work.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series, examining in depth the situation of offshore transparency and secrecy in a number of the most prominent jurisdictions, is available in the Lowtax Library at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/subs_reports.asp and a description of the report can be seen at http://www.lowtaxlibrary.com/asp/description_report2.asp
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