Wednesday, November 18, 2009

McIntyre proposes an alternative information exchange model

Michael McIntyre, a leading U.S. tax expert who recently testified how automatic information exchange is becoming the emerging global standard, has now made available on his website an excellent and detailed article entitled How to End the Charade of Information Exchange (no link, but his own website offers this piece) which he published in Tax Notes on October 26, highlighting the deep flaws in current information exchange schemes and proposing a way forward.

Among other things, McIntyre says:

"One of the key tools for combating tax haven abuses is supposed to be an effective exchange of information. The G-20 countries, at their April 2009 meeting, declared that countries that refuse to meet the international standard for effective information exchange would be blacklisted and subject to sanctions. So far, the blacklist has been a sad joke. The OECD also has a gray list, and that list is also a joke."

It is always good to have knowledgeable individuals speak truth to power. He continues, with biting humour, to examine the OECD's model Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA):

"The view is widely held that the OECD TIEA is ineffective — not nothing, but not much. Tax haven countries that agree to this ineffective TIEA are provided with an undeserved patina of respectability. They have been eager to sign up, and most have done so. . . I do not mean to condemn the G-20 and the OECD for promoting a TIEA with limited effectiveness. In international politics, brazen hypocrisy is sometimes a useful tool for good."

Pre-empting the latest flurry of reports on the agreement between the U.S. and Switzerland, he notes:

"I believe that the agreement is nearly useless as a device for ferreting out a significant number of American tax cheats operating out of Switzerland."

But along with the opinions, there is real meat buried in this article. Notably, in Appendix A, he has prepared his own model TIEA, and in Appendix B, he provides a detailed comparison between his TIEA and the OECD's model TIEA.

The alternative TIEA is here.

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