The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released a new single global common reporting standard for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities worldwide, intended to help fight cross-border tax evasion.
This document was approved and declassified by the Committee on Fiscal Affairs (“CFA”) on 17 January, 2014 and contains the global standard for automatic exchange of financial account information. It has been developed by the OECD, working with G20 countries, and in close co-operation with the EU.
• Part I contains the introduction to the standard and
• Part II contains the text of the Model Competent Authority Agreement (CAA) and the Common Reporting and Due Diligence Standard (CRS).
Under the standard, jurisdictions obtain financial information from their financial institutions and
automatically exchange that information with other jurisdictions on an annual basis. The standard consists of two components:
1. the CRS, which contains the reporting and due diligence rules and
2. the Model CAA, which contains the detailed rules on the exchange of information. To prevent circumventing the CRS it is designed with a broad scope across three dimensions:
• The financial information to be reported with respect to reportable accounts includes all types of investment income (including interest, dividends, income from certain insurance contracts and other similar types of income) but also account balances and sales proceeds from financial assets.
• The financial institutions that are required to report under the CRS do not only include banks and custodians but also other financial institutions such as brokers, certain collective investment vehicles and certain insurance companies.
• Reportable accounts include accounts held by individuals and entities (which includes trusts and foundations), and the standard includes a requirement to look through passive entities to report on the individuals that ultimately control these entities.
The CRS also describes the due diligence procedures that must be followed by financial institutions to identify reportable accounts.
The CRS will need to be translated into domestic law, whereas the CAA can be executed within existing legal frameworks such as Article 6 of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters or the equivalent of Article 26 in a bilateral tax treaty. Before entering into a reciprocal agreement to exchange information automatically with another country, it is essential that the receiving country has the legal framework and administrative capacity and processes in place to ensure the confidentiality of the information received and that such information is only used for the purposes specified in the instrument.
Consistent with previous OECD work in the area of automatic exchange, the common standard is intended to be used by those jurisdictions wishing to automatically exchange financial account information. Its aim is to avoid a proliferation of different standards which would increase costs for both governments and financial institutions.
The OECD said it is responding to a mandate from leaders of the Group of 20 nations to reinforce action against tax avoidance and evasion and inject greater trust and fairness into the international tax system.
The OECD will formally present the standard for the endorsement of G-20 finance ministers during a February 22 meeting in Sydney, Australia.