The Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) has released the 2007 Tax Cooperation Assessment. The new publication, ***“Tax Co-operation: Towards a Level Playing Field – 2007 Assessment by the Global Forum on Taxation”***, highlights changes made over the last year in the areas of transparency and exchange of information by the 82 countries covered in the 2006 Report.
It notes that “the trend towards the implementation of the high standards of transparency and exchange of information established by the Global Forum” continues.
The Report shows that many financial centres, both onshore and offshore, are making progress in improving transparency and international co-operation to counter offshore tax evasion, but some still fall short of the international standards that have been developed over the last seven years.
In particular, progress reportedly has been made in the following areas:
• Nearly 100 more exchange of information arrangements are now in place;
• The scope of some existing arrangements has been extended;
• Access to bank information for tax purposes has been greatly improved in some
• Increasingly, legislation requires financial and other service providers to have available details of the beneficial as well as the legal owners of corporate vehicles;
• Some jurisdictions have brought into force legislation empowering them to fully implement the provisions of their bilateral exchange of information arrangements.
A Sub-Group of the Global Forum, the **Sub-Group on Level Playing Field Issues**, is scheduled to meet in November to discuss the next steps for further progress. *”It is clear that there cannot be a level playing field as long as there are significant jurisdictions that are unwilling to implement the standards of transparency and effective exchange of information.”* says the OECD. The Sub-Group will consider a number of proposals about how countries that do not currently comply with the standards can be encouraged to make progress.
The OECD notes that in the meantime, its own member countries have stepped up efforts to tackle the problem of offshore tax evasion by their residents.
The OECD carries out its dialogue on tax issues with non-OECD economies under the multilateral framework known as the **“Global Forum on Taxation”**. The composition of the Global Forum generally varies depending on the topics covered by the meeting.
The 35 jurisdictions that made commitments to transparency and effective exchange of information are referred to as Participating Partners. The OECD and non-OECD Participating Partners have worked together in the Global Forum on Taxation to develop the international standards for transparency and effective exchange of information in tax matters. A specially created working group developed the 2002 Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters.
The Global Forum on Taxation seeks to improve transparency and to establish effective exchange of information so that countries can ensure compliance with their national tax laws. The Forum says its objectives with regard to a level playing field in these areas seek to ensure that activities do not simply migrate from countries that engage in effective exchange of information to those that do not. *”In working towards a level playing field, the Global Forum seeks to ensure the implementation of high standards of transparency and information exchange in a way that is fair, equitable and permits fair competition between all countries, large and small, OECD and non-OECD.”*
The Bahamas is a Participating Partner, and is included in the factual assessment by the Forum. It also serves on the Sub-Group on Level Playing Field Issues, along with Australia, the Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, France, Germany, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Mauritius, Mexico, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Seychelles and the United States. The Commonwealth Secretariat is an Observer.