Monday, September 17, 2007

Australian tax treaties

The Uniting Church in Australia, which Wikipedia describes as the third-largest Christian denomination in the country, has taken an interest in tax justice issues since 1997, when they stated that "payment of taxes is a moral responsibility that goes with citizenship,"

They recently put out a new statement endorsing recent agreements to set up exchange of tax information between Australia and other tax havens including Antigua/Barbuda and the Netherlands /Netherlands Antilles and "encourages the Australian Government to enter into similar Tax Information Exchange Arrangements with other jurisdictions that may be classed as tax havens."

It is very good to see church groups getting interested in these complex issues. TJN welcomes their statement, as any mechanisms to exchange tax information between countries should help increase transparency in the international financial system. There seems to be a variety of church groups getting interested in tax justice issues, as we have reported before on this blog.

TJN would like to see us moving further, too, beyond bilateral tax information exchange agreements, and towards multilateral ones. To be most effective, this would require the adoption of standarised international formats for exchanging information - so that national tax authorities are not deluged by a mass of separate sets of information that are laid out in ways that are incompatible with each other and hard to work with. Now that would result in a new era in transparency in the international financial system. We still have a long way to go.


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