Tackling tax abuse

Though OECD work on making international tax fairer began over 50 years ago, it was not until 1998 and a report on harmful tax competition that the OECD stepped up its work against tax evasion, tax havens and abuse.

Since then it has been committed to counter harmful tax practices and improve compliance, encourage exchange of information, combat aggressive tax planning and corruption, and improve co-operation between tax and anti-money laundering authorities.

The 1998 report defined a tax haven as a country or territory where there is no or nominal tax on the relevant income, combined with a lack of effective exchange of information, a lack of transparency, and no substantial economic activities. The OECD has also developed standards of transparency and exchange of information that have been endorsed by governments and international organisations throughout the world and which serve as a model for most of the 3,000 bilateral tax conventions in existence today.

The standards require several things, such as exchange of information on request where it is "foreseeably relevant" to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the treaty partner, and respect for taxpayers' rights. Strict confidentiality of all information exchanged is also required. Progress on improving transparency, informationsharing and compliance with tax laws accelerated in the lead-up and aftermath of the G20 summit in April 2009, which set the fight against tax havens as a priority.

All 30 OECD countries now meet the standard. Of the 40-plus tax havens that the OECD identified in 2000, nine-the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and Malta-are actively implementing the OECD standard either by means of Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) or tax treaties, and the international community needs to recognise this progress. Macao and Singapore, as well as Hong Kong, China, have endorsed the standards and will take steps before the end of 2009 to start implementing them. Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco have also agreed to implement the standards. The Global Forum on Taxation, which is now the pre-eminent platform for international dialogue on this issue, will monitor commitments and push for compliance in more jurisdictions, as well as work to prevent the creation of new tax havens.

References

OECD (1998), Harmful Tax Competition: An Emerging Global Issue, Paris For more details, see also www.oecd.org/tax/evasion

Visit www.oecd.org/tax

Visit www.oecd.org/finance

©OECD Observer No 273 June 2009



Bookmark this


Economic Data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter

Twitter feed

Editor's Choice

  • Economic Outlook_video
  • Economic Outlook: The global economy is expected to continue expanding at a moderate pace over the coming two years, but policymakers must ensure that instability in financial markets and underlying fragility in major economies are not allowed to derail growth.Click to watch the video.
  • OECD Forum 2014
    A public event that brings together all sectors of society to share policies and ideas to help shape responses to global challenges.
    Join us on 5-6 May.
  • "There is no shortcut to equipping people with the right skills and to providing them with opportunities to use their skills effectively."

    - Andreas Schleicher, Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, OECD Yearbook 2014

  • Data Lab Image
  • Interactive charts showing aid (ODA) provided by DAC members; by recipient countries and by sector. Click to compare your country.
  • OECD Insights Blog
    OECD Insights Blog by Brian Keeley:
    Results are out for the OECD’s PISA student assessments on “creative problem solving”.
  • Better Life Index
    How do you measure a Better Life?
    On 5 May, the OECD will be launching a new interactive infographic where visitors can explore the priorities of people worldwide. Be a part of it. Create and share your Better Life Index.

Most Popular Articles

Subscribe Now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the OECD or its member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2014