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World Focus On Tax Standards Set To Intensify, Conference Hears

by Jason Gorringe,, London

03 December 2009

Speaking at a conference on the ‘The Evolution of Global Tax Standards’, Malcolm Couch, Isle of Man Comptroller of Income Tax, acknowledged that there will be increased attention on the development and implementation of tax standards over the next five years, representing another hurdle for low tax jurisdictions.

In his remarks, Mr Couch observed that: "This year we have seen increased attention on how countries around the world implement tax standards and co-operate with each other, and this was particularly highlighted by the focus of the G20 and the OECD on the issue."

"We have also seen the evolution of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information into a formally established body mandated to review international tax standards; and are now likely to see a proliferation of additional organisations scrutinizing standards. However if we do see this, it is essential that these standards be universally accepted.”

"In the face of this, it is essential for continued economic development and sustainability that financial centres adhere to and adopt the highest of international standards whether laid out by G20, OECD, FATF or a new organisation."

"As a leading international business centre the Isle of Man will continue our programme of negotiating tax co-operation agreements and engaging on this issue with countries around the world. Already this year we have signed three double taxation agreements, four tax information agreements and a number of additional agreements.”

With an evolving and strengthened focus on tax transparency and information exchange, international financial centres are also likely to face an increasing number of external reviews, he suggested.

Couch went on to warn that: "The increased attention on international financial centres won't just focus on tax, but will also look at areas such as regulation, political and economic stability and consumer protection."

"Recently the island welcomed the findings of the Foot Review, which made a positive assessment of the island's move to automatic exchange of information under the European Union Savings Tax Directive, its 'substantial implementation' of international standards on information exchange and for its Financial Services Ombudsman complaints scheme.”

He concluded by observing that the development of effective standards would rely on increased international dialogue and the building of consensus.

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