OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría announced today that moves by a number of financial centres over recent weeks have given a welcome boost to efforts to promote transparency and exchange of information on tax matters. He said these recent actions and statements consistent with the OECD standards in this area show that *“real progress is being achieved.”*
Among recent moves, Mr. Gurría noted:
* Singapore has announced that it endorses the principles and standards for transparency and exchange of information agreed by a majority of OECD countries and several dozen non-OECD countries and territories and will introduce legislation by mid-2009 that will allow it to implement them.
* Hong Kong, China, has announced that it will introduce a bill in mid-2009 to allow it to negotiate agreements implementing the OECD standard for effective exchange of information.
* Andorra has announced its willingness to enter into tax information exchange agreements and its intention to eliminate strict bank secrecy for tax purposes by November 2009.
* The Isle of Man has signed a tax information exchange agreement with Germany, raising to 13 the number of such pacts that it has with other economies.
* Liechtenstein, which has already signed a tax information exchange agreement with the United States, has announced its acceptance of the OECD standards and its willingness to negotiate agreements that provide for effective exchange of information in all tax matters.
Mr. Gurria also reported announcements by the Cayman Islands that it will sign tax information exchange agreements with seven Nordic economies on 1 April, 2009, bringing to eight the number of such agreements that it has with other economies.
Altogether, since G-20 leaders signaled their determination at their summit in Washington last November to promote cross-border cooperation on the matter, almost 20 conforming bilateral tax information exchange agreements have been signed between different partners. Mr. Gurría welcomed these developments, noting that *“ending the abuse of banking secrecy arrangements that facilitate tax evasion is part of a broader drive to clean up one of the more controversial sides of a globalised economy.”* He added that *“the support of the G-20 for efforts to improve transparency and exchange of information has underscored their relevance for both developed and developing countries.”*
Good access to information is a prerequisite for the effective and fair application of each country’s tax laws. The OECD standards in this area provide for an exchange of information between tax authorities on request in cases of specific inquiries into suspected tax evaders. They prohibit so-called “fishing expeditions” and are designed to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged.