By Alex Cobham
Last week I took up the kind invitation of the government of Cayman to speak at their conference on ‘Tax Transparency in the Global Financial Services Ecosystem’, and to meet with staff from the monetary authority, statistics office and corporate registry; and with a range of industry representatives including those from the compliance association and Cayman Finance. Above is a video of my presentation; and here a few reflections on the divergences between reputation, rhetoric and reality; and on where things now stand.
The OECD’s Global Forum conducted a (confidential) first-stage evaluation of the laws of countries that want to participate in the system to assess whether they are ready to do so. Now, the Global Forum is working on a terms of reference to assess countries once automatic exchanges are in place, to make sure they comply with the international standard called the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
The OECD’s new terms of reference to assess the implementation by countries of BEPS Action 13 related to Country-by-Country Reports (CbCR) may penalise countries, especially developing ones, that try to obtain by their own means the CbCR’s valuable data needed to tackle multinational tax avoidance.
Country-by-Country Reports (CbCR) (to be prepared by multinationals with group revenues over EUR 750 million) will offer information on multinational economic activity, profits and tax paid broken down for each country where they operate. This CbCR “map” will reveal any misalignments between the location of real activity, and where profits are ultimately declared to hold both multinationals and tax havens to account.
The introduction of a key policy tool against multinational companies’ tax avoidance has been handled so badly that developing countries are now exposed to worse inequalities. In a new report published today, we call for immediate changes to limit the damage done.
In less than a year data will start to flow under a new scheme for countries to share information automatically across borders, to help each other collect taxes from their taxpayers and fight financial crimes and abuses. The scheme is the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) which was set up by the OECD, a club dominated by rich countries. The scheme will start to deliver global automatic exchange of information from 2017.