OECD backs Guernsey in fight against tax haven status
The OECD has backed Guernsey in its fight against tax haven status, describing the crown dependency’s inclusion on the European Commission’s list of top 30 non-compliant tax jurisdictions as “very surprising”.
Monica Bhatia, head of the secretariat of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 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.
“It has demonstrated its commitment to upholding the highest standards of transparency. This is evident through its rating on its peer review and that it has committed to the new global standard on automatic exchange of information as an early adopter.”
Released last month, the Commission’s list is formed from countries which have been flagged up by ten or more EU members as non-compliant, and also features Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, and Bermuda.
Pascal Saint-Amans, head of global tax policy at OECD, 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 a cooperative jurisdiction.”
Guernsey Finance, the representative body for Guernsey’s finance sector, also argued that the island has undertaken a series of actions to promote tax transparency, including moving to automatic exchange of information from 2011, being part of the Common Reporting Standard, and having five tax information exchange agreements in place as of 1 July 2015.
Despite the island’s repeated protestations against its inclusion on the list, according to the EU Guernsey currently features on the lists of 10 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland (Sark only), Portugal, and Spain.
The island has also argued against the Commission’s inclusion of a nomination for the neighbouring island of Sark when adding up its figures.
It said that the 600 population island is a separate crown dependency despite being part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
According to the BBC, the European Commission last week admitted there were “inconsistencies” in information used to put Guernsey on the blacklist.
Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, and Bermuda have also contested their inclusion on the list.
The Government of Liechtenstein said it “decisively rejects” its inclusion on the list due to its “well-advanced” efforts in the implementation of the automatic exchange of information while Bob Richards, finance minister of Bermuda, said the country “prides itself” in being cooperative.
Meanwhile, the Government of Hong Kong said it was “puzzled” by its inclusion on the list, adding that few of the EU states which have featured the city-state had yet negotiated tax agreements.
The Commission’s list of non-cooperate tax jurisdictions is as follows: Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Grenada, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Nauru, Niue, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Vanuatu.