What is Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes?

Currently, there is a wave and trend towards black money fighting. In India we have the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets Act 2015 which gives prosecution and imprisonment to holders of black money. Similarly, there are a number of laws by different countries enacted in the last few years that aims to counter black money.

The US, Germany, UK etc have passed laws to ensure tax information about their citizens and residents in foreign countries. Similarly, many countries have launched schemes like India’s black money law to give a last chance to black income holders to declare their black income abroad and to come clean.

All these shows something big is going to happen. A global war on black money and tax avoidance is taking place on many fronts. DTAAs are strengthened with Tax Information Exchange Agreements. Similarly, banking secrecy laws in Switzerland will be phased out.

Governments and organizations like OECD and G20 are in the forefront of the new and successful fight against black money. They have created an organization called Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes to design mechanisms and arrangements that can be implemented globally to track black money.

The new war against black money is not national rather, it is international. Once countries start automatic exchange of bulk information on income and tax paid by residents from other countries, it is going to be difficult to store black income in foreign countries.

Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes

The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) is a multilateral framework which works in the area of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.

The Global Forum was originally established in 2001 by OECD member countries along with a number of participating partners. The Forum has been a driving force behind the development of the international standard of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.

Global Forum under G 20 mission

A major change in the functioning of the Global Forum occurred when the G20 has assigned it the function to design new standards related with tax information agreements and other transparency issues that should be followed by countries.

In September 2009, in response to the G20 Leaders’ call for jurisdictions (means countries) to adopt high standards of transparency and information exchange in tax matters, the Global Forum was restructured as a consensus-based organization where all members will get an equal role.

The restructured Global Forum was formally established as a Part II program of the OECD by the OECD Council on 17 September 2009. Its initial mandate was for three years until 2012, which was subsequently renewed for a further three years until 2015.

 From 2009, the Global Forum has achieved big progress in the area of bank secrecy for tax purposes and in automatic exchange of tax information.

The Mandate of the Global Forum

 There is now a widespread acceptance that all jurisdictions (read countries) need to implement the international standards of transparency and exchange of information if international tax evasion is to be tackled successfully. The Global Forum’s mandate is to promote the rapid implementation of these standards.

The Global Forum ensures that these high standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes are in place around the world through its monitoring and peer review activities, technical assistance, peer to peer learning and skills support.

Responding to calls from its members and the G20, in 2013 the Global Forum agreed to monitor the implementation of the new global standard of automatic exchange of financial account information developed by OECD and G20 countries working together. Its peer group studies analyses progresses in tax information standards adopted by different counties including various tax havens and Switzerland.

The Global Forum has a report titled Tax Transparency.

Members of the Global Forum

A total of 126 member jurisdictions and the European Union now participate in the Global Forum, together with many observers, making it the largest international tax group in the world. Its current membership includes all G20 countries, OECD member countries, offshore financial centres and many developing countries, all of which have committed to adhere to the international  standard on tax information excahnge.