The international community continues making progress toward greater cooperation to ensure effective information exchange in tax matters. The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes issued today 12 new reports that highlight action being taken by jurisdictions to implement the international standard for exchange of information on request.
Four Phase 1 reports were published assessing jurisdictions’ legal and regulatory framework for transparency and exchange of information. Colombia, Latvia, and Saudi Arabia qualify for the next stage of the review process, while the peer review of The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) determined that the jurisdiction does not have in place a legal framework for transparency, and therefore does not qualify for a Phase 2 review.
The review of FSM was conducted under the special procedure for non-members, which ensures that jurisdictions do not gain a competitive advantage by refusing to implement the international standard or participate in the Global Forum. The FSM was identified in 2012 as a relevant jurisdiction for the Global Forum’s work, due to development of a captive insurance industry.
The Global Forum published Phase 2 reports - which review exchange of information practices - in four jurisdictions and allocated ratings for compliance with the individual elements of the international standard as well as an overall rating. Barbados received an overall rating of “Partially Compliant,” due, in part, to gaps in its network of agreements to exchange information, Malaysia and the Slovak Republic received an overall rating of “Largely Compliant” and Slovenia was rated Compliant.
Four supplementary peer review reports were also published, assessing progress made by jurisdictions to address gaps identified in their legal frameworks and exchange of information practices since their previous reviews.
After substantial changes to implement Global Forum recommendations, Botswana and the United Arab Emirates are no longer blocked from moving to the next Phase of the peer review process. Mauritius is also shown to have implemented recommendations made by the Global Forum, and maintains an overall “Largely Compliant” rating.
The supplementary report on Panama points to several improvements in its legal framework, but concludes that further progress is necessary in a number of areas before it is able to qualify for a Phase 2 review.
As legal and practical improvements are being made in many other jurisdictions, more supplementary reviews are expected to be pursued this year. To date, the Global Forum has completed 132 peer reviews and assigned compliance ratings to 54 jurisdictions that have undergone Phase 2 reviews. Four jurisdictions remain non-compliant, three are now partially compliant and there are 13 jurisdictions which are blocked from moving to a Phase 2 review.
The Global Forum is currently revising its Terms of Reference for assessing jurisdictions in advance of a new round of reviews starting in 2016, with regard to the international standard of exchange of information on request. The Global Forum has also begun work on the implementation of the new standard for automatic exchange of information (AEOI) i.e. the Common Reporting Standard, which was released by the OECD in February 2014. G20 Finance Ministers endorsed the CRS during a ministerial meeting in Sydney, Australia, committed to implementation and called on all financial centres to match their commitments.
The first meeting of the Global Forum’s new AEOI group – currently comprising 54 jurisdictions – took place in Paris on 27-28 March. Delegates focussed on development of a monitoring and review mechanism for the new AEOI standard and on its global implementation, in particular, how to enable developing countries to participate in automatic exchange.