Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TIEAs: a Norwegian update

Following our long information exchange blog and our FT comment piece, this has been sent to us by Sigrid Klæboe Jacobsen, Chair of TJN-Norway.
TJN-Norway revealed on April 4 that Norway only used its tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with tax havens four times in 2010. In 2009 Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen had called them "a success story since the beginning". Last week the Ministry of Finance announced its thirtieth TIEA, with the Seychelles.

We have argued that the agreements don't solve the problem of secrecy, and that huge resources are needed to obtain information for just one case. Its also quite probable that tax havens are using the agreements to whitewash themselves: six tax havens have only signed agreements with other tax havens.

We argue that country-by-country reporting and automatic information exchange has to come in place to end secrecy.

Roger Schjerva, state secretary in the Ministry of Finance, has argued in response:

- If you compare the situation from just a few years back, the agreements are still a success story.
- The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes monitors whether or not countries are fulfilling their obligations under the agreements. All OECD countries and all 38 jurisdictions on OECD list of tax havens have agreed to this process.
- The agreements have a preventive effect, as many Norwegians already have reported about their tax related issues to the tax authorities.
- We are working on automatic information exchange and country-by-country reporting.

The last statement is highly questionable. They have only recently stated that they will consider c-b-c, and only after they know the results from the EU. It has taken them two years since c-b-c was presented as a recommendation in an official report from the Ministry of Foreign affairs. As for AIE, I seriously doubt that the Norwegian government has taken a proactive approach to this internationally.

A news article about this, in Norwegian, is here.

- Sigrid Klæboe Jacobsen, Chair, Tax Justice Network - Norge, tel. +47 46861189


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