Following the G20 London 2009 Meeting and Communiqué, the OECD Secretariat has provided a report on progress by financial centres around the world towards implementation of an internationally agreed standard on exchange of information for tax purposes. This standard, it said, has been developed by OECD and non-OECD countries in the context of its Global Forum on Taxation, and endorsed by G20 Finance Ministers in 2004 and by the UN Committee of Experts on International Co-operation in Tax Matters in October 2008.
The report lists:
• jurisdictions that have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard.
• tax havens that have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard but have not yet substantially implemented it.
• other financial centres that have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard but have not yet substantially implemented it.
• jurisdictions that have not committed to implement the internationally agreed tax standard.
OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria welcomed the outcome of the G20 discussions, saying *“recent developments reinforce the status of the OECD standard as the international benchmark and represent significant steps towards a level playing field. We now have an ambitious agenda, that the OECD is well placed to deliver on. I am confident that we can turn these new commitments into concrete actions to strengthen the integrity and transparency of the financial system”.*
The OECD has identified its future challenges as:
1. Achieving a rapid and effective implementation of the standard: Many of these commitments will require legislative changes and the negotiation of specific bilateral agreements in order to become effective, and the OECD stands ready to assist jurisdictions in their implementation.
2. Speeding up the negotiations of tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs). Small tax havens lack the resources to enter into negotiations with a large number of countries. The OECD’s 2002 Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters sets out an option for multilateral rather than bilateral TIEAs that the OECD intends to explore over the coming weeks. The OECD is also examining how the Nordic experience of multilateral negotiations leading to simultaneous bilateral agreements could be adopted more widely.
3. Extending the scope and role of the OECD’s action: The OECD Global Forum currently encompasses more than 80 jurisdications and carries out self reviews and peer reviews to assess progress in implementation of the standard.
On (3) above, the OECD says the time has come to re-examine the membership, the architecture and the role of the Global Forum in setting standards and evaluating progress. It is anticipated that the Forum will undertake more robust reviews to strengthen the implementation of the standard.