Updating tax policies after Panama Papers
Communiqué: G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting: "We mandate the OECD working with G20 countries to establish objective criteria by our July meeting to identify non-cooperative jurisdictions with respect to tax transparency. Defensive measures will be considered by G20 members against non-cooperative jurisdictions if progress as assessed by the Global Forum is not made." ... "Improving the transparency of the beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements is vital to protect the integrity of the international financial system, and to prevent misuse of these entities and arrangements for corruption, tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering."
The European governments’ effort to expand their pilot project globally is likely to run into difficulties because the US does not collect information on beneficial ownership. In addition, the principles agreed by G20 governments to combat money laundering rules require countries to hold “adequate and current” information but not necessarily through a central register.
The finance ministers said they wanted their move to mirror what they described as the “groundbreaking” steps they took on tax evasion. In 2012 the five countries set up a pilot project to share information on bank accounts, on the back of a US initiative to gain access to information about its citizens hiding money abroad.
He said the creation of the blacklist, which was inspired by the release of the Panama Papers detailing the tax avoidance of the world’s rich and powerful, would be a “clear threat” with “clear sanctions” to countries that continue to fail to comply with international tax rules.
“We could develop an international blacklist of tax havens and once you have that internationally agreed list – that would be the first time in our history as a world that you had an internationally agreed blacklist – then all sorts of counter measures could be deployed against noncompliant regimes [and] tax havens that are on that blacklist,” he said on the sidelines of the IMF meetings on Friday. “I think all that can start now.”
Osborne suggested that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which has helped lead the global fight against tax evasion, be charged with creating the blacklist. The OECD already has a list of“Uncooperative Tax Havens”, but Osborne said his proposed blacklist would require all OECD members to take action against citizens and companies dealing with blacklisted countries.
... At present there are no sanctions for dealing with the countries on the list of uncooperative tax havens
Gillian Tett: Panama and a new Copernican revolution: "Most of us vaguely know that money flows through offshore centres but the details of this world are very shadowy and opaque. Thus, insofar as any of us have ever tried to visualise the 21st-century “map” of global finance, we assumed that the visible onshore activity was the “sun” that dominated this universe — and offshore finance just a fuzzy little planet, that hovered on the edge. But the Panama Papers have given contours to that fuzzy, offshore world. ... Could this spark a bigger policy change, such as a crackdown on tax avoidance or money laundering?"
How global tax evasion keeps poor countries poor - The Washington Post: "When the United Nations Financing for Development conference was held in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa last July, African nations in particular pushed Western countries to close tax loopholes and shut tax havens. Many countries offered to forgo aid if their Western counterparts would oblige. Under heavy pressure from governments like David Cameron's in Britain, the major tax reform breakthrough of that conference was the Addis Tax Initiative, in which donor countries pledged to double their levels of aid, so as to strengthen tax systems in developing countries, without so much of a word about their own systems."