OECD: "Austria is now Largely Compliant"
Reviews and reports for 12 countries and jurisdictions, have been unveiled by the OECD. These reports examined their progress towards implementing global standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.
The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which the OECD runs found that seven jurisdictions, have the legal frameworks in place to allow them to move forward to Phase 2, which will cover their exchange of information (EOI) practices.
The Marshall Islands are also being allowed to move to Phase 2 along with: Albania, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Lesotho, Pakistan and Uganda.
This is after a supplementary report calling on the Marshall Islands to fix the "significant gaps in its legal frameworks", concluded they had ‘done enough’ to move on.
Austria’s New Rating
July 2013 saw a Phase 2 report where Austria was rated as being “partially compliant”. This was due to deficiencies in their rules on access to information, rights and safeguards, EOI mechanisms and availability of ownership and identity information.
Fast forward 2 ½ years and now the Forum has concluded that Austria is “largely compliant” because of the changes it has made in these areas.
However, 21 out of the 118 bilateral EOI agreements in place do still not allow for the exchange of banking information. The Forum has determined it is still “in need of improvement".
Improvements in the British Virgin Islands since a Phase 2 report in July 2013 means its rating has gone up from non-compliant to largely compliant.
Lithuania and Sint Maarten also benefited from Phase 2 reports which found them to be compliant and largely compliant with global EOI standards, respectively.
The Lithuanian report found that "its legal framework generally ensures that ownership information, accounting and bank information is available according to the standard; that its tax administration has broad powers to access banking, accounting information and information on the ownership of legal entities and that Lithuania has in place appropriate organisational processes to ensure effective exchange of information and virtually all peers are very satisfied with Lithuania as an exchange of information partner".
In contrast the report on Sint Maarten decided oversight and enforcement of this system are lacking, despite having made improvements to its legal framework
Phase 2 has now had 80 jurisdictions gone through during the Forum’s existence. “21 jurisdictions are rated compliant, 46 are rated largely compliant, 10 are rated partially compliant and three jurisdictions are non-compliant.”
A further 11 jurisdictions are blocked from moving to a Phase 2 review due to insufficiencies in their legal and regulatory framework," a statement from the Forum on August 3rd 2015 said.
The next annual meeting of the Global Forum, which has 127 member countries or jurisdictions, will take place in Barbados on October 28th and 29th 2015.