Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Automatic Information Exchange: the way forward- UK

From ActionAid:

The government has just sent the clearest signal yet that it agrees automatic information exchange is the way forward. HMRC's commentary on the budget says that, when it uncovers British taxpayers tax dodging in tax havens, the fine they incur will be “determined by the tax transparency of the jurisdiction in which the non-compliance arises.”

It works like this:

You pay the biggest fine if you hide your money somewhere where that doesn’t exchange tax information with the UK at all; the fine is smaller if you hide it somewhere that exchanges on request; but the fine is smallest if you try to hide it somewhere that exchanges automatically with the UK.

We like automatic information exchange a lot and like to think we've had a role in pushing this issue forwards globally. Our work on information exchange has established that although the OECD claims that its fatally flawed "on-request" information exchange is the "internationally agreed standard," automatic information exchange is, in fact, the emerging standard. This latest budget move is, while timid, a small incremental step in this direction. On tax information exchange agreements, also read this important article by TJN Senior Adviser Richard Murphy in The Guardian newspaper, which begins:

"Alistair Darling (UK Chancellor, or Finance Minister) won a rousing cheer for announcing a crackdown on Lord Ashcroft’s tax haven. But we should read the small print.
. . .
What the UK is signing is a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (Tiea) with Belize. That sounds good. The reality is far from living up to the title. Tieas (as they are called, to rhyme with "tear") were first created in 2002, at the low point of the attack on tax havens, when George Bush was riding to their defence."


Read on . . .

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