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HMRC internal manual

Double Taxation Relief Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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USA: Double taxation agreement, Article 27: Exchange of information and administrative assistance

  1. The competent authorities of the Contracting States shall exchange such information as is necessary for carrying out the provisions of this Convention or of the domestic laws of the Contracting States concerning taxes covered by this Convention insofar as the taxation thereunder is not contrary to this Convention, including for the purposes of preventing fraud and facilitating the administration of statutory provisions against legal avoidance. This includes information relating to the assessment or collection of, the enforcement or prosecution in respect of, or the determination of appeals in relation to, the taxes covered by this Convention. The exchange of information is not restricted by paragraph 1 of Article 1 (General Scope) of this Convention. Any information received by a Contracting State shall be treated as secret in the same manner as information obtained under the domestic laws of that State but may be disclosed to and only to persons or authorities (including courts and administrative bodies) involved in the assessment, collection, or administration of, the enforcement or prosecution in respect of, or the determination of appeals in relation to, the taxes covered by this Convention or the oversight of the above. Such persons or authorities shall use the information only for such purposes. They may disclose the information in public court proceedings or in judicial decisions.
  2. If information is requested by a Contracting State in accordance with this Article, the other Contracting State shall obtain that information in the same manner and to the same extent as if the tax of the first-mentioned State were the tax of that other State and were being imposed by that other State, notwithstanding that the other State may not, at that time, need such information for the purposes of its own tax.
  3. In no case shall the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article be construed so as to impose on a Contracting State the obligation:

(a) to carry out administrative measures at variance with the laws and administrative practice of that or of the other Contracting State;

(b) to supply information that is not obtainable under the laws or in the normal course of the administration of that or of the other Contracting State;

(c) to supply information that would disclose any trade, business, industrial, commercial, or professional secret or trade process, or information the disclosure of which would be contrary to public policy.

  1. If specifically requested by the competent authority of a Contracting State, the competent authority of the other Contracting State shall provide information under this Article in the form of authenticated copies of unedited original documents (including books, papers, statements, records, accounts, and writings), to the same extent such documents can be obtained under the laws and administrative practices of that other State with respect to its own taxes.
  2. Each of the Contracting States shall endeavour to collect on behalf of the other Contracting State such amounts as may be necessary to ensure that relief granted by this Convention from taxation imposed by that other State does not inure to the benefit of persons not entitled thereto. This paragraph shall not impose upon either of the Contracting States the obligation to carry out administrative measures that would be contrary to its sovereignty, security, or public policy.
  3. The competent authority of a Contracting State intending to send officials of that State to the other Contracting State to interview individuals and examine books and records with the consent of the persons subject to examination shall notify the competent authority of the other Contracting State of that intention.
  4. The competent authorities of the Contracting States shall consult with each other for the purpose of co-operating and advising in respect of any action to be taken in implementing this Article.

Further clarification to the Article is provided by the following:

With reference to Article 27 (Exchange of Information and Administrative Assistance):

it is understood that the powers of each Contracting State’s competent authorities to obtain information include powers to obtain information held by financial institutions, nominees, or persons acting in an agency or fiduciary capacity (not including information that would reveal confidential communications between a client and an attorney, solicitor or other legal representative, where the client seeks legal advice), and information relating to the ownership of legal persons, and that each Contracting State’s competent authorities are able to exchange such information in accordance with the Article.