International Community Reaches Important Milestone In Fight Against Tax Evasion


By Ron Chen, Correspondent ASEAN Region

New international standards on the automatic exchange of information for tax purposes have so far been satisfactorily implemented by countries worldwide, marking an important milestone in the global fight against tax evasion, according to a new report published recently by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (the Global Forum).

The first Peer Review of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information shows that 88 per cent of jurisdictions engaged in automatic exchange since 2017-18 were deemed to have satisfactory legal frameworks in place. The report notes that a second stage of the monitoring process, now underway, will assess the effectiveness of automatic exchange in more than 100 jurisdictions.

The peer review report was presented during the first day of the annual plenary meeting of the Global Forum, which is bringing together ministers, high-level authorities and delegates from more than 100 member jurisdictions. The three-day meeting is focusing on how the tax transparency agenda can promote the fairness of tax systems while strengthening revenue mobilisation. The event will highlight recent achievements and challenges in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Global Forum continues to be a game-changer,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “In spite of the COVID-19 crisis, it has successfully delivered on the global peer review process, offering further proof that automatic exchange is becoming the global standard. Ensuring access to financial account information for tax administrations helps ensure everyone pays their fair share of tax, boosting revenue mobilisation for countries worldwide, and particularly for developing countries.”

In 2019, countries automatically exchanged information on 84 million financial accounts worldwide, covering total assets of USS10 trillion. EUR 107 billion in additional tax revenues have been identified through voluntary disclosure programmes, offshore tax investigations and related measures since 2009, an increase over the EUR 102 billion figure reported in 2019.

The Global Forum Secretariat provided technical assistance in 2020 to 59 developing country members, including training to thousands of officials, as part of efforts to strengthen tax collection capacity worldwide. “The battle for transparency is being fought on many fronts,” said Head of the Global Forum Secretariat, Zayda Manatta. “We are moving fast towards full implementation of the existing standards, and taking every effort to ensure all our members benefit from them.”

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