Global Fight on Tax Havens Progressing Well

March 15, 2012 International Tax Cooperation

Fight on Tax Evasion Progressing WellPARIS – Since 2009 significant work has been carried out to fight tax evasion and the illicit use of companies registered in tax haven jurisdictions, leading to the recovery of billions in tax revenues, the disclosure of over USD 100 billion of previously hidden assets, and the signing of numerous multilateral and bilateral information exchange agreements.

Earlier this week the Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration Pascal Saint-Amans responded to a previously released publication which questioned the effectiveness of international efforts to fight tax evasion though the use of companies registered in “tax haven” jurisdictions.

According to Pascal Saint-Amans, many of the information exchange agreements signed in the last three years are only now coming into force and taking effect, and research carried out by the OECD already shows that even the earliest measures taken under the conditions of the agreements have led to more than 100 000 tax evaders from around the world coming forward and declaring hidden assets worth up to USD 150 billion, and paying more than USD 14 billion in previously evaded taxes.

Pascal Saint-Amans also contested that the latest available evidence shows that governments and independent organizations around the world are still actively making progress in their fight to increase global tax transparency. As an example, he pointed to the international Convention on Mutual Administrative in Tax Matters, saying that the agreement has been signed by 33 countries already, and all of them pledged to work towards greater levels of information sharing and mutual assistance.

He also drew attention to the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, saying that by June 2012 the organization and its members will complete 70 reviews of countries’ efforts to uphold their commitments to the international standards of tax transparency.

Summarizing the efforts of his organization and the international society, Pascal Saint-Amans said, “…tax havens have been around since the late 19th or early 20th centuries, depending on how you define them. They are defended by powerful vested interests and the fight against them will not be won quickly or easily. However, combined with new OECD projects to strengthen inter-agency cooperation to tackle tax crimes and other financial crimes, there is good reason to be optimistic that we will continue to build on the substantial progress made since 2009.”

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