International tax transparency makes progress

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne hailed the international expansion of a UK-led deal to automatically share information on the ultimate owners of companies as over 20 jurisdictions, including British crown dependencies, overseas territories and EU member states sign up.

Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Montserrat are amongst those joining the initiative led by the UK and launched with Germany, France, Italy and Spain at the G20 last week. As such their tax and law enforcement agencies will now exchange data on company beneficial ownership registers and new registers of trusts enabling more effective investigation of financial wrongdoing and tax-dodging.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said:

Only a week after Britain launched this initiative with some of our closest European partners, it’s gaining the international support that will be vital to make it truly effective.

I welcome the early commitment made by Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Montserrat and Anguilla to participate and call on all of the remaining overseas territories and crown dependencies to do likewise.

It should be clear to all countries and tax jurisdictions that the world is moving firmly in the direction of greater tax transparency and the UK will continue to push for an internationally agreed blacklist for those that refuse to do the right thing.

The initiative will begin to explore the best way for countries to share this information, with a view to developing a truly global common standard in a two-step process leading to the interlinking of national registries

To date, since the launch 19 additional European countries have joined the pilot, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, Latvia, Croatia, Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia, Denmark, Malta, Lithuania, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Portugal, Estonia, Greece and Czech Republic.

On 14 April 2016, finance ministers from the 5 European countries launching the pilot wrote to their G20 counterparts urging progress towards a fully global exchange of beneficial ownership information. The letter recommended that the OECD, alongside the Financial Action Task Force should take a lead role in developing new single global standard for such exchange and for the interlinking of registers.

At the G20 meetings Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne also called on the OECD to develop proposals for the listing of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions which do not meet international tax transparency standards, as well as options for coordinated counter-measures.

These latest actions build on strong action the government has taken since 2010 to revolutionise tax transparency and tackle tax avoidance and evasion. In this parliament alone the government will legislate for over 25 measures to make sure people do not get out of taxes due, together raising £16 billion by 2021.

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