The new OECD/G20 standard on automatic exchange of information was endorsed on Thursday by all OECD and G20 countries as well as major financial centres participating in the annual meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in Berlin. A status report on committed and not committed jurisdictions will be presented to G20 leaders during their annual summit in Brisbane, Australia on November 15-16.
Fifty-one jurisdictions, many represented at Ministerial level, translated their commitments into action during a massive signing of a Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement that will activate automatic exchange of information, based on the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. Early adopters who signed the agreement have pledged to work towards launching their first information exchanges by September 2017. Others are expected to follow in 2018.
The new Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters was recently presented by the OECD to the G20 Finance Ministers during a meeting in Cairns last September. It provides for exchange of all financial information on an annual basis, automatically. Most jurisdictions have committed to implementing this Standard on a reciprocal basis with all interested jurisdiction.
The Global Forum will establish a peer review process to ensure effective implementation of automatic exchange. Governments also agreed to raise the bar on the standard of exchange of information upon request, by including a requirement that beneficial ownership of all legal entities be available to tax authorities and exchanged with treaty partners.
The Global Forum invited developing countries to join the move towards automatic exchange of information, and a series of pilot projects will offer technical assistance to facilitate the move. Ministers and other representatives of African countries agreed to launch a new “African Initiative” to increase awareness of the merits of transparency in Africa. The project will be led by African members of the Global Forum and the Chair, in collaboration with the African Tax Administration Forum, the OECD, the World Bank Group, the Centre de Rencontres et d'Etudes des Dirigeants des Administrations Fiscales (CREDAF).
“We are making concrete progress toward the G20 objective of winning the fight against tax evasion,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said after the signing ceremony. "The fact that so many jurisdictions have agreed today to automatically exchange financial account information shows the significant change that can occur when the international community works together in a focused and ambitious manner. The world is quickly becoming a smaller place for tax cheats, and we are determined to ensure that developing countries also reap the benefits of greater financial sector transparency.”.
The Global Forum is the world’s largest network for international cooperation in the field of taxation and financial information exchange, gathering together 123 countries and jurisdictions on an equal footing. Peru and Croatia joined the Forum at the Berlin meeting.