The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes published new peer review reports today for 12 countries or jurisdictions, moving further ahead with its goal to implement global standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.
Phase 1 reports on Albania, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Pakistan and Uganda assessed their legal and regulatory frameworks for transparency and exchange of information on request. These countries were assessed to have legal frameworks in place to enable them to move to the next stage of the review process, which will assess exchange of information practices.
The Global Forum also reviewed exchange of information practices through Phase 2 peer review reports in Lithuania and Sint Maarten. Both were given a rating for compliance with the individual elements of the international standard and an overall rating with Lithuania receiving an overall rating of “Compliant” and Sint Maarten an overall rating of “Partially Compliant.”
Jurisdictions continue to request supplementary reviews that assess steps taken to address recommendations of the Global Forum to address gaps in their legal frameworks and exchange of information practices identified in previous reviews. This included the Marshall Islands, which had been blocked from moving to Phase 2 of its review process due to significant gaps in its legal framework. A supplementary review concluded that key changes to its legislation now enable the Marshall Islands to move to Phase 2.
Austria, which was rated “Partially Compliant” in July 2013, has since implemented a number of recommendations by the Global Forum, leading to an upgrade of its overall rating to “Largely Compliant” in its supplementary report. The supplementary report of the British Virgin Islands, which assesses progress made since its Phase 2 report in July 2013 also concluded that based on significant improvements having been made, its overall rating be upgraded from “Non-Compliant” to “Largely Compliant.”
The Global Forum is the world’s largest international tax group, with 127 members on an equal footing. The Forum has now completed 198 peer reviews and assigned compliance ratings to 80 jurisdictions that have undergone Phase 2 reviews. Of these, 21 jurisdictions are rated “Compliant”, 46 are rated “Largely Compliant”, 10 are rated “Partially Compliant” and 3 jurisdictions are “Non-Compliant.” A further 11 jurisdictions are blocked from moving to a Phase 2 review due to insufficiencies in their legal and regulatory framework.
In an important step towards the smooth implementation of the OECD’s standard on Automatic Exchange of Information, the Global Forum has launched a multilateral process to evaluate confidentiality and data safeguards frameworks in more than 90 jurisdictions which have committed to begin automatic information exchange by 2017 or 2018.
The Global Forum continues to ensure that the benefits of participation in the new tax transparent and cooperative environment are available to all. It has conducted a number of training seminars to help jurisdictions prepare for peer reviews, sensitize tax auditors in the use of the exchange of information infrastructure and equip governments to implement automatic exchange of information. Around 200 tax experts participated in seminars in Colombia, Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya. The Global Forum will also support a new pilot project on Automatic Exchange of Information announced jointly by Ghana and the UK on the sidelines of the 3rd Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa.
Global Forum members will meet at their annual plenary meeting on 29-30 October 2015 in Bridgetown, Barbados.