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OECD Report Finds That Tax Haven Islands Are Now Sharing Information

According to Law360, The Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Mauritius, three of the world’s most famous tax havens, are among the countries deemed “compliant” or “largely compliant” with international standards for tax information exchange, according to a series of reports released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The island nations, which all pledged in the early 2000s to implement OECD’s standards, were part of a group of 10 countries whose compliance was reviewed by the group's Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

Mauritius shares the “compliant” badge with Ireland and Norway, while “largely compliant” Bermuda and the Cayman Islands find themselves in a group with Australia, Canada, Germany and Qatar. The Global Forum deemed Jamaica “partially compliant” with the standards and launched a “supplementary report” to boost its compliance rating.

The reports released 08/21/17 were the first results of what the OECD body calls a “new and enhanced peer review process” that began in mid-2016. According to the Global Forum, this second round of reviews has focused on the availability of information about beneficial ownership of certain assets, as required by the Financial Action Task Force international standard.

In its peer review of Bermuda, the Global Forum said that the Caribbean country is still working on implementing recommendations that it made during a 2013 review of its compliance with information exchange and transparency standards, including increasing legal requirements for maintaining ownership, identity and accounting information. Monday’s report for the country doubled down on those recommendations, while asking it to strengthen its compliance with beneficial ownership information standards.

In its review of the Cayman Islands, the Global Forum gave credit to the country for making progress on recommendations that the OECD body made in 2013 during the first round of peer reviews, though it also made a similar recommendation to the country regarding the maintenance of beneficial ownership information.

The Global Forum released a similarly optimistic report earlier this summer in which it found that every country surveyed but one — Trinidad and Tobago — had taken steps to make their tax agencies better at sharing information with one another about foreign-held assets. The Global Forum said that dozens of countries, ranging from Andorra to Guatemala, had made progress on those standards, taking steps to open up their banking records and retain and share information.

Since 2008, the OECD has worked to establish an international standard for tax authorities to communicate with one another and track down foreign income of their residents. Similar efforts have been made by the G-20, the international forum of industrialized and emerging economies. The 142 member countries of the OECD initiated the Common Reporting Standard in 2014 and aim for nations to begin exchanging tax information this year or the next.

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Read more at: Tax Times blog

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