Today the UK, alongside 50 other countries and jurisdictions from across the globe, is taking the next step in stamping out tax evasion by signing a new agreement at the Global Forum in Berlin to automatically exchange information.
Under the agreement, unprecedented levels of information, including account balances, interest payments and beneficial ownership, will be shared with the UK from countries across the world in an international clampdown on tax evasion.
This will increase the ability of HMRC to clamp down on tax evaders, providing HMRC with the details of billions of pounds of assets held overseas by UK taxpayers.
Speaking ahead of the signing ceremony in Berlin the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:
Today marks a negotiating triumph for Britain, and our close ally Germany, in the fight against tax evasion.
It was three years ago when, with my German colleague Wolfgang Schäuble, I launched a campaign for a new international deal to catch people who evade their taxes by hiding their money overseas.
I never expected that within such a relatively short period we would succeed in getting 51 countries to sign up to this agreement.
Today we strike a blow on behalf of hardworking taxpayers who are cheated when rich people don’t pay their taxes.
Today we send a clear message to those who still think they can escape making a fair contribution to our public services and to reducing our deficit: you can hide no more; we are coming to get you.
Want to understand what today’s announcement means, and the progress we’ve made in clamping down on international tax evasion? Our interactive timeline sets out the background.
The UK has been leading the international fight against tax evasion, including through its G8 Presidency, and has played a crucial role in driving both the development and the early implementation of the new global standard adopted by the OECD in July this year.
The global standard of automatic information exchange to tackle tax evasion was developed by the OECD and agreed in July 2014.
51 countries and jurisdictions, including all G5 countries, are signing the multilateral competent authority agreement under which information will be exchanged at a signing ceremony at the Global Forum in Berlin today.
Together with France, Germany, Italy and Spain the UK launched an initiative for early adoption of the new standard in April 2013. In total 57 countries and jurisdictions - known as the Early Adopters Group - have now committed to a common implementation timetable which will see the first exchange of information in 2017 in respect of accounts open at the end of 2015 and new accounts from 2016.
A further 34 countries have committed to implement the new global standard by 2018.
The full list of countries committed to first exchange in 2017 or 2018 will be released by the Global Forum in their annual report at the end of the 29 October plenary session.
Photo by Alan Cleaver on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.
Berlin declaration on transparency and fairness in tax matters
Statement made on the occasion of the signing event for the new global standard of automatic exchange of taxpayer information at the Global Forum in Berlin on 29 October.
The Early Adopters Group of 54 countries and jurisdictions, recognising that tax evasion can only be tackled effectively at the global level, have committed ourselves to early adoption of the new single global standard for automatic exchange of taxpayer information and have driven its take-up on a truly global basis.
Under the new global standard a wide range of information will be exchanged on offshore accounts, including account balances and beneficial ownership. This will make it possible to stamp out tax evasion and tackle tax fraud. This action by the dishonest few reduces public revenues, undermines confidence in the fairness of our tax systems and increases the burden on honest taxpayers.
As a result of the leadership the Early Adopters Group has shown and continues to show, all major financial centres have now committed themselves to a concrete timetable of first exchange in either 2017 or 2018. We call on the few countries which have not yet done so to match this commitment. The ability of tax evaders to hide is vanishing quickly. Tax evaders have two choices - come forward or be caught.
At the Global Forum meeting in Berlin on 29 October many of us have taken a further step towards implementation by signing the framework agreements which will provide the legal mechanism for automatic exchange of information. And all of us are on track to deliver on our commitment to first exchange of information in 2017 which will include reports on accounts open at the end of 2015.
As a group we are committed to remaining at the forefront of this global agenda, to supporting the monitoring of the implementation of the new global standard within the Global Forum and to ensuring that all countries can realise the benefits. In doing so we have recognised that only those financial centres which adopt the highest standards of transparency and work in close cooperation with each other will be those that prosper in the future.
Joint statement by: Argentina, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Curacao, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom; the UK’s Crown Dependencies of Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey; and the UK’s Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, and the Turks & Caicos Islands.