OECD identifies Guernsey as 'cooperative' jurisdiction

Jonathan Boyd

Statements from the OECD have underlined Guernsey’s claim to be a cooperative tax jurisdiction, as defined by treaties on information exchange.

Monica Bhatia, head of the Secretariat of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes said: “I am very surprised that Guernsey has been included in a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. We are very pleased with the cooperation Guernsey has shown as a very active member of the Global Forum.”

“It has demonstrated its commitment to upholding the highest standards of transparency and exchange of information. This is evident through its rating on its peer review and the fact that it has committed to the new global standard on automatic exchange of information as an early adopter. We look forward to continuing this close and cooperative relationship with Guernsey.”

Pascal Saint-Amans, the OECD’s Head of Global Tax Policy, added: “Guernsey is in the leading group of jurisdictions who are active in the practical implementation of tax transparency and co-operation. Their adherence to the internationally accepted standards developed by the OECD means that there is clear and demonstrable criteria against which the OECD can consider them as a cooperative jurisdiction. The fact that Guernsey has been peer reviewed as part of the Global Forum illustrates that other jurisdictions also consider Guernsey transparent and cooperative against those international standards.”

The statements come shortly after Guernsey was identified by the European Commission on a list of so called ‘non-cooperative jurisdictions’, based in turn on lists kept by EU member states. As previously reported by InvestmentEurope, The general rule applied by the EC has been that if any jurisdiction appears on 10 or more member states’ lists, then it is deemed ‘non-cooperative’ across the EU.

However, Guernsey, as well as some other jurisdictions, has protested its inclusion on the EC list. The UK government has said the Channel Island should not be on the list, and the jurisdiction’s own government is continuing diplomatic efforts to ensure that this happens.

According to information from Guernsey Finance, the jurisdiction has addressed a number of tax transparency issue, including:

• Voluntarily adopting the EU Savings Directive and moving to automatic exchange of information from 2011. This means that information relating to accounts held in Guernsey by individuals resident in an EU Member State is now automatically sent to their home jurisdiction each year
• Voluntarily adhering to the principles of the Code of Conduct on Business Taxation, which has been formally endorsed by the Code Group
• Being part of the Early Adopter Group of the Common Reporting Standard on automatic exchange of information, after signing the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement in October 2014. This means that we will be able to exchange information for 2016 in 2017, unlike a full EU Member state such as Austria
• Being assessed by the OECD’s Global Forum on Tax Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes as largely compliant with the international standards on exchange of information on request – a rating that is shared with the UK, Germany and the USA
• Being a party to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters
• At 1 July 2015, having 58 Tax Information Exchange Agreements in place – including 22 EU Member States and 16 G20 members – and 13 Double Taxation Agreements in place.

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