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HMRC internal manual

International Manual

Description of double taxation agreements: Exchange of information

HMRC is able to exchange information with tax authorities in other countries. Information can only be exchanged under a legal instrument. The United Kingdom is currently a party to:

  • over 100 comprehensive bilateral double taxation agreements containing a provision to exchange information
  • a small, but growing number of bilateral Tax Information Exchange agreements
  • the EU Mutual Assistance Directive (77/799EEC) - an instrument of Community law providing for exchange of information and other forms of assistance that applies to all member countries of the European Union
  • EC Regulations on administrative co-operation in the fields of VAT and excise
  • the joint Council of Europe/OECD Convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters - a multilateral agreement that to which around 15 countries are currently parties
  • a small number of bilateral agreements relating to estates, inheritances and gifts containing a provision to exchange information

Only authorised officers of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs can disclose information to an authorised officer of the government of the country concerned. Information can only be exchanged for the purposes set out in the relevant agreement. The object of the provisions is to enable the agreements to work smoothly including the prevention of double taxation, to prevent fraud and evasion, to administer the statutory provisions in each country against legal avoidance and to effect a correct assessment of taxes on income and on capital. All the agreements contain confidentiality provisions regarding the use and disclosure of the information exchanged.

The authority to disclose information under the bilateral and multilateral agreements is contained in FA06/S173(4). FA03/S197(1) authorises disclosure of information for the purposes of the EU Mutual Assistance Directive.

Detailed guidance on the practical operation of the provisions is given in INTM156000 and subsequent paragraphs.