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

  • Internet policy video
  • As the Internet transforms the way people, businesses, and economies work, what policies do governments need to implement so that everyone benefits from the digital economy?
  • "About 53% of foreign bribery cases involved corporate management or CEOs." Read more in the OECD Foreign Bribery Report
  • France 24 – Eurozone weakness threatens global economy: The Eurozone could get stuck in a “stagnation trap" without decisive action and poses a risk to the entire global economy.
  • [Video] If Africa aided Norway: Radi-aid challenges clichés.
  • [VIDEO] Migration is constantly evolving. Around one in ten people in the developed world today is an immigrant. And over the past decade, migrants have accounted for 70% of the increase in the working-age population in the OECD area, according to the OECD’s latest International Migration Outlook.
  • More fiscal stimulus could help Japan: speaking with CNBC, Randall Jones, Head of Japan/Korea Desk at OECD, warns that Japan needs a detailed and credible fiscal consolidation plan.
  • Modest global economic forecasts, continuing high unemployment and serious downside risks should spur governments with a greater sense of urgency to fully employ monetary, fiscal and structural policy levers to support growth, notably in Europe, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Outlook.
  • OECD Employment Outlook 2014: The OECD Employment Outlook 2014 includes chapters on recent labour market developments with a special section on earnings, job quality, youth employment, and forms of employment and employment protection.
  • Try our latest OECD Observer crossword!
  • Better Life Index
    How do you measure a Better Life? The OECD has launched 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

Poll

Is deflation a major risk in OECD economies?

Yes
No
Don't know

OECD Insights Blog

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

All rights reserved. OECD 2014