Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has today (Monday 28 April) attended a G5 finance ministers meeting in Paris to discuss further steps on tackling tax evasion and avoidance.
At the meeting, a date for signing automatic exchange of information agreements was agreed between the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The new global standard of automatic exchange of tax information – which has been developed by the OECD and endorsed by the G20 – will be signed by the G5 at the October Global Forum meeting in Berlin together with other jurisdictions committed to early adoption.
To date, 44 jurisdictions have joined the initiative launched by the G5 finance ministers last year for early adoption of the new global standard.
These jurisdictions have jointly announced that they will begin to automatically exchange information with each other in 2017, with respect to data collected from 31 December 2015.
The G5 finance ministers called on all financial centres that have not yet done so to now join the early adopters’ initiative. In doing so, they stressed that tackling tax evasion is a collective responsibility of all countries and financial centres should take the lead, consistent with their role and responsibilities in the global economy.
The G5 ministers also reinforced their commitment to continue assisting developing countries in building the necessary capacity so they can benefit from these developments as soon as possible.
The Chancellor’s attendance at the meeting comes as HMRC begins writing to around 2,000 taxpayers with offshore accounts, data on which has been shared under the EU Savings Directive.
Part of HMRC’s offshore evasion strategy, this work will inform future compliance activity and ensure HMRC is ready to use the additional information that will be received under the new agreements, as soon as it is shared.
The meeting of G5 finance ministers formed part of a wider visit to Paris in which the Chancellor met with senior business leaders from some of France’s leading companies.
The Chancellor said:
Today we take another step to fight tax avoidance and evasion. We’re working with key international partners to promote greater transparency and co-operation, and to reform the global rules. Alongside this, we are taking tough action domestically.
The government is on the side of the hardworking majority who pay the taxes they owe on time but there remains a minority that think they don’t have to play by the rules.
For those evading their responsibilities and hiding their money offshore the message is clear; time is running out. If you have something to disclose, come to us before we come to you.
At the meeting, the G5 Ministers reiterated their strong support to the OECD-G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project to develop a single set of global rules to tackle aggressive tax planning.
They stressed the importance of delivering to the agreed timetable and looked forward to first outputs that will be reported to the G20 Finance Ministers in September 2014.