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WHO Declares TIEA Pandemic

Jeremy Hetherington-Gore Unleashed
14 June, 2009

Everybody knows about Double Tax Avoidance Treaties, those big beasts which roam the international fiscal jungle attempting to reduce the danger that a company or individual will get taxed twice on the same slice of income, and usually also reducing withholding taxes between countries, which encourages trade and foreign direct investment. In brief, they are a Good Thing.

The only problem is, that what you get is often not what it says on the tin, because the treaties have become infected by Mutual Assistance parasites which are bred in the cellars of the OECD in Paris. These nasty little animals are not free-living; but if you go anywhere near a Tax Treaty, they can jump onto you and infect you. They allow, indeed require, a signatory country to provide its co-signatory with all possible information that might be to do with an attempt to minimize (escape, avoid, evade) tax, either unilaterally or on request. One of the most insidious aspects of these pests is that the their DNA is highly secretive - no taxpayer, citizen or individual (you and me, in other words) will ever know that information about them is being passed around between governments.

Not content with unleashing the Mutual Assistance Trojan (MAJ) onto the fiscal landscape, the OECD's scientists went one further and came up with a free-living version of the MAJ called the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters, which has infected all the countries of Europe and the OECD on a multilateral basis. This therefore allows (indeed requires) all those 50 or so countries to share among themselves all the information they have that might have a bearing on tax minimization.

The only way for a country to avoid infection by the Convention is to avoid bodily contact with any of those 50 countries, and this has classically been the stance of the 'offshore' tax havens, which in the main have resolutely refused to have anything to do with them, and have thus remained uninfected.

Needless to say, this was anathema to the OECD's experts, who have now come up with the ne plus ultra of anti-avoidance, an independently viable, free-living, self-reproducing MAJ called the Tax Information Exchange Agreement. This highly unpleasant, rodent-like creature can travel around the world until it finds an uninfected host country, where it immediately takes root and begins breeding. The TIEA is so designed that once a country has 12 TIEAs in place, this acts as a critical mass in terms of its relationships with OECD members, and it is only a matter of time before the host country is completely over-run with TIEAs.

The TIEA has already been very successful, to such an extent that the World Health Organization raised its TIEA warning level to 6 this week, meaning that the spread of the disease has reached the level of a pandemic. Governments in the few remaining uninfected countries, such as Andorra and Vanuatu, are considering a total ban on inward and outward travel in order to protect themselves, but it is probably already too late for them to resist.

Welcome to the future! The only consolation is that governments are so incompetent that they are probably losing all this information about you even more quickly than they are assembling it. Not the identity thieves, though, who are as efficient as governments are inefficient, and will undoubtedly steal the information before it can be lost.

The real answer of course is to be so poor that no-one cares about you. See you in the pub later on and we'll spend out last euros together.


About the Author

Jeremy Hetherington-Gore Unleashed

Jeremy tackles the difficult issues head on!


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