Monday, May 25, 2009

Netherlands wants more automatic information exchange

Following the OECD's false claim that its extremely narrow approach to information exchange enjoys "universal endorsement", we have yet another indication of more actors keen to push forwards with multilateral and automatic exchange of information.

The Dutch Deputy Finance Minister, Jan Kees de Jager, has said in a letter to parliament that, unofficially translated, says:

"The Netherlands would like to go a step further in the relationship with these countries, and make agreements on the automatic exchange of information. This way, tax evasion can be addressed (even) more effectively. . . . The Netherlands strives for automatic exchange of [tax] information, at the multilateral level (OECD, UN) as well as the bilateral level (at the conclusion of tax treaties and Tax Information Exchange Agreements)."

The Netherlands will be contacting Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium, Liechtenstein and Singapore to improve agreements about information exchange. De Jager also wrote that he intends to conclude TIEAs with Monaco, Andorra, Bermuda, Panama, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. This is significant, and it shows that political will exists to push this superior standard of information exchange forwards.

Now look at this. A story in The Economist quotes Anthony Travers, chairman of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association and one of the most influential voices on the island, as criticising Obama's recent budget provisions to close tax loopholes that would curb use and abuse of the Cayman Islands. Then he says something surprising:

"Better, he says, would be a “proactive” treaty, with the American authorities automatically notified of their taxpayers’ offshore accounts."

Is the Cayman Islands interested in automatic information exchange? We do not know what the detail is of what Travers is proposing, or what exactly he meant, but this comment certainly looks interesting. Either way, step by step, pressure is building for the superior standard to emerge.


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