The international fight against cross-border tax evasion has entered a new phase with the launch by countries participating in the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information of a peer review process covering a first group of 18 jurisdictions: Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Botswana, Canada, Cayman Islands, Denmark, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Jersey, Mauritius, Monaco, Norway, Panama, Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago.
The reviews are a first step in a three-year process approved in February by the Global Forum in response to the call by G20 leaders at their Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009 for improved tax transparency and exchange of information. In addition to a complete schedule of forthcoming reviews, the Global Forum also published three other key documents:
- the Terms of Reference explaining the information exchange standard countries must meet;
- the Methodology for the conduct of the reviews;
- the Assessment criteria explaining how countries will be rated.
The Global Forum brings together 91 countries and territories, including both OECD and non-OECD countries. At a meeting in Mexico in September 2009, participants agreed that all members as well as identified non members will undergo reviews on their implementation of the standard. These reviews will be carried out in two phases: assessment of the legislative and regulatory framework (phase 1) and assessment of the effective implementation in practice (phase 2).
The review reports will be published once they have been adopted by the Global Forum, whose next meeting will take place in Singapore at the end of September 2010.
“This is the most comprehensive, in-depth review on international tax co-operation ever. There has been a lot of progress over the past 18 months, but with these reviews we are putting international tax co-operation under a magnifying glass," says Mike Rawstron, chair of the Global Forum.
The peer review process will identify jurisdictions that are not implementing the standards. These will be provided with guidance on the changes required and a deadline to report back on the improvements they have made."