Friday, September 06, 2013

The G20 leaders' statement, in relevant part

For those who haven't yet read the G20 leaders' statement today, here is the part that particularly interests us:
51. In a context of severe fiscal consolidation and social hardship, in many countries ensuring that all taxpayers pay their fair share of taxes is more than ever a priority. Tax avoidance, harmful practices and aggressive tax planning have to be tackled.

The growth of the digital economy also poses challenges for international taxation. We fully endorse the ambitious and comprehensive Action Plan – originated in the OECD – aimed at addressing base erosion and profit shifting with mechanism to enrich the Plan as appropriate. We welcome the establishment of the G20/OECD BEPS project and we encourage all interested countries to participate. Profits should be taxed where economic activities deriving the profits are performed and where value is created.

In order to minimize BEPS, we call on member countries to examine how our own domestic laws contribute to BEPS and to ensure that international and our own tax rules do not allow or encourage multinational enterprises to reduce overall taxes paid by artificially shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions. We acknowledge that effective taxation of mobile income is one of the key challenges. We look forward to regular reporting on the development of proposals and recommendations to tackle the 15 issues identified in the Action Plan and commit to take the necessary individual and collective action with the paradigm of sovereignty taken into consideration.

51.    We commend the progress recently achieved in the area of tax transparency and we fully endorse the OECD proposal for a truly global model for multilateral and bilateral automatic exchange of information. Calling on all other jurisdictions to join us by the earliest possible date, we are committed to automatic exchange of information as the new global standard, which must ensure confidentiality and the proper use of information exchanged, and we fully support the OECD work with G20 countries aimed at presenting such a new single global standard for automatic exchange of information by February 2014 and to finalizing technical modalities of effective automatic exchange by mid-2014.

In parallel, we expect to begin to exchange information automatically on tax matters among G20 members by the end of 2015. We call on all countries to join the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters without further delay. We look forward to the practical and full implementation of the new standard on a global scale. We encourage the Global Forum to complete the allocation of comprehensive country ratings regarding the effective implementation of information exchange upon request and ensure that the implementation of the standards are monitored on a continuous basis. We urge all jurisdictions to address the Global Forum recommendations in particular those 14 that have not yet moved to Phase 2. We invite the Global Forum to draw on the work of the FATF with respect to beneficial ownership. We also ask the Global Forum to establish a mechanism to monitor and review the implementation of the new global standard on automatic exchange of information.

52.    Developing countries should be able to reap the benefits of a more transparent international tax system, and to enhance their revenue capacity, as mobilizing domestic resources is critical to financing development. We recognize the importance of all countries benefitting from greater tax information exchange. We are committed to make automatic exchange of information attainable by all countries, including LICs, and will seek to provide capacity building support to them. We call on the Development Working Group in conjunction with the Finance Track, to work with the OECD, the Global Forum and other IOs to develop a roadmap showing how developing countries can overcome obstacles to participation in the emerging new standard in automatic exchange of information, and to assist them in meeting the standard in accordance with the action envisaged in the St Petersburg Development Outlook. The Working Group should report back by our next meeting.

Working with international organizations, we will continue to share our expertise, help build capacity, and engage in long-term partnership programmes to secure success. In this respect, we welcome the OECD Tax Inspectors without Borders initiative, which aims to share knowledge and increase domestic capacities in developing countries in the tax area. Finally, we are committed to continue to assist developing countries, including through the IOs, in identifying individual country needs and building capacity in the area of tax administration (in addition to automatic exchange of information) and encourage such support to be developing country led.
With tax annex here.

Reminder: we have commented on the G20 process already today, here.

Overall summary: this is rather short on specifics, and falls far short of some of the recommendations we have made (such as this one), but we have come a long way from even a couple of years ago. 
We are, of course, delighted to see official support for the Tax Inspectors Without Borders initiative, which is a proposal that TJN put to a government conference in Bonn, Germany, in 2011, and which rapidly found political support from a wide range of countries. 

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