On November 26-27, 2019, at the 10th Anniversary Meeting the OECD trumpeted the achievements of the work of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (the Global Forum) in Paris. The meeting brought together more than 500 delegates from 131 member jurisdictions for discussions on efforts to advance the tax transparency agenda.
According to the information in the Global Forum’s 10th anniversary report, the work of the Global Forum has produced thousands of bilateral exchange relationships, enabling more than 250,000 information exchange requests over the past decade. In 2018, nearly 100 member jurisdictions automatically exchanged information on 47 million financial accounts, covering total assets of US $4.9 trillion. Since 2009, more than €100 billion in additional tax revenue has been obtained.
A recent OECD study demonstrates that wider exchange of information arising out of the Global Forum is associated with a global reduction in foreign-owned bank deposits in international financial centers (IFC) by 24% ($410 billion) between 2008 and 2019. The start of automatic exchange of information (AEOI) in 2017 and 2018 is associated with an average reduction in IFC bank deposits owned by non-IFC residents of 22%.
Since 2009, almost all Global Forum members have eliminated bank secrecy for tax purposes. Almost 70 jurisdictions have changed their laws during this period. Almost all members either prohibit bearer shares or ensure that the owners can be identified. Since 2017, members must also ensure the transparency of the beneficial owners of legal entities, so these cannot be used to conceal ownership and evade tax.
The OECD has underscored the importance of tax transparency for developing countries. The Global Forum has helped 85 developing country members use exchange of information to strengthen their tax collection capacity. The Africa Initiative has helped African members identify over € 90 million in addition tax revenues in 2018, thanks to information exchanges and voluntary disclosures. In order to improve developing countries’ uptake of automatic exchange of financial information, the OECD-UNDP Tax Inspectors Without Borders Initiative announced at the meeting a pilot project aimed at supporting the effective use of the data.
The 10th Year Report looks at future actions. The Global Forum will continue ensuring that all jurisdictions effectively participate in exchange of information on request (EOIR), do not fall back and continue advancing the transparency and exchange of information agenda as a matter of high priority. In the second round of the EOIR peer reviews, the most problematic issue concerns the availability of beneficial ownership information.
A key goal is to realize the effective implementation of the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) standard and the level playing field. An important player in this regard will be the United States, the largest financial contributor to the OECD. The U.S. has not fully reciprocated on information exchange in the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act Intergovernmental Exchange Agreements and has failed to sign or implement the Common Reporting Standard.
Another goal is to help developing countries develop their regulatory regimes and practices in order to benefit from the exchanges of tax information.
As the world rapidly develops, new challenges emerge. Hence, the Global Forum must be agile to such new risks and respond to them quickly.
The current issue of the IELR will have a more comprehension discussion of the report, meeting, and future of the Global Forum.