Combating tax evasion

Twenty countries have retrieved € 14,000 million evaded by over 100,000 wealthy taxpayers who had hidden assets offshore.

The work undertaken by the Global Forum ensures that all citizens pay their taxes so that governments have the revenues they need to run their country and supply public services.

This meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes brought together delegates from 85 jurisdictions[i] and 7 international organisations. They adopted a Progress Report[ii] to the G20 based on 59 completed peer reviews; agreed on guidelines for the co-ordination of technical assistance and decided to convene a meeting of countries to focus on the effectiveness of exchange of information.

Opening the Forum, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria congratulated the delegates: 

“At a time of stalled economies and a crisis of politics, your collective tax work is a tangible example of countries moving together in a mutually beneficial direction that will help those trying to extricate themselves from the crisis. Governments have signed more than 700 agreements to exchange tax information. We know that 20 countries have taken advantage of this more transparent environment, putting in compliance initiatives which have already yielded €14 billion in additional revenues from more than 100 000 wealthy tax payers who had hidden assets offshore and that there’s more in the pipeline.”

The Global Forum delivers to Heads of Government at the G-20 Cannes Summit.

A year and a half ago, leaders at the Seoul Summit asked the Global Forum to report on the status of the international standard on tax transparency at their Summit in Cannes on 3-4 November 2011. To meet this request, the Global Forum has adopted another 18 reports, bringing to 59 the total number of peer reviews completed: an average of 3 a month. These identify deficiencies, make recommendations on how to address them and, where the deficiencies are sufficiently serious, prevent a jurisdiction from moving on the next stage in the review process. Overall, these reports show that the level of compliance is high and that cooperation has been good. Many of the reports’ 370 recommendations to improve the exchange of information have already been acted upon. A small number of jurisdictions will not pass to the next stage of the review process because the deficiencies were sufficiently serious.

Members of the Global Forum also adopted and published a new set of 18 peer review reports, including 7 supplementary reports, bringing to 66 the number of reports completed since March 2010.

The reports describe each jurisdiction’s rules for ensuring that information is available to the tax authorities, how it can be accessed by authorities and the mechanisms in place to exchange information with foreign tax authorities. They also identify deficiencies and make recommendations on how to address them.

In the 13 new reviews, the most common deficiencies relate to: the lack of available ownership information as regards trusts and bearer shares; incomplete accounting information for some forms of trusts, companies and partnerships (including foreign entities); and limitations in the authorities’ powers to access information requested by foreign authorities.

This initiative does not seek to prosecute taxpayers, but tax evaders. Those who earn their money in a jurisdiction, evade the respective taxes and hide such funds in other jurisdictions. It’s results so far: billions have been recovered and there is the possibility to recover many more.