At the end of May delegates from 85 members and 9 international organisations and regional groups met in Bermuda at the third meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum).
They reviewed the progress since 2009 in implementing the standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes through in-depth monitoring and peer reviews and speeding up the process of negotiating agreements. The Global Forum also began the process of extending its mandate beyond the initial three-year mandate.
The adoption and publication of an additional nine peer review reports at the Bermuda meeting brought the number of reports adopted to 34.
In response to the G20 request, the Global Forum discussed a draft report highlighting the relationship between the work on non-cooperative jurisdictions and development. Global Forum members recognised the positive impact and importance of the Global Forum’s work on developing countries.
The Global Forum adopted and published an additional nine peer review reports (i.e. the combined reviews of France, Isle of Man, Italy, New Zealand and the United States, and the Phase 1 reviews of Hungary, the Philippines, Singapore and Switzerland), bringing the total number of published reports to 34. Details of the reports can be found on the OECD website. The work on peer review reports is progressing on schedule and the Global Forum is on track to adopt and publish 60 reports by the November G20 Summit.
The most common deficiencies identified in the reports relate to: the lack of available information on persons that are represented by nominees and on foreign companies; incomplete accounting information for some forms of limited liability companies and partnerships; slow responses by requested countries. Key points to note are:
United States: Improvement is needed with respect to ownership and accounting information for some limited liability companies with single foreign owners.
Singapore: The report recommends that Singapore’s competent authority should have the power to obtain all relevant information for all of its exchange partners regardless of whether they need the information for their own tax purposes. The report also recommends improvements in the EOI network to ensure Singapore has agreements to the standard with all relevant partners.
Switzerland: The report notes that in a few areas it still falls short of the standard: bearer savings books are being phased out but still exist. In addition, only a limited number of Switzerland’s exchange of information agreements meets the standard. Switzerland’s Phase 2 review will only proceed in the second half of 2012 provided it has brought a significant number of its agreements in line with the standard.
In parallel with the progress on new review reports, several jurisdictions (Aruba, Belgium, Cayman Islands, Ghana, Germany, Guernsey, Ireland, Mauritius, Monaco, Panama, Qatar, San Marino and the Seychelles) reported on their progress in addressing the shortcomings identified in their peer review reports. Some jurisdictions (Barbados, Belgium, Cayman Islands, Qatar and San Marino) have formally requested follow-up reports to reflect the changes in their legal frameworks. This is concrete evidence of the impact that the Global Forum is having in terms of levelling the playing field internationally.
The next Global Forum meeting is scheduled for October 2011 in France.