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Cook Islands Commits To Automatic Tax Information Exchange

by Jason Gorringe, Lowtax.net, London
30 October, 2015

The Cook Islands' Minister of Finance, Mark Brown, has announced that the Cook Islands will exchange tax information on an automatic basis with other territories from 2018.

Brown stated that: "The Cook Islands has progressed significantly in the area of exchanging information for tax purposes over the past few years, making this commitment continues on with this ongoing evolution."

"Ensuring the Cook Islands' financial services industry remains viable will require a continued effort that maintains regulatory and oversight standards which are contemporary and acceptable across the world. It is not in the interests of the industry to be included on blacklists which impede the activities of the industry as a whole."

The Cook Islands has 21 tax information exchange agreements in place and, by agreeing to sign the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, it will now join over 90 jurisdictions in committing to a timetable for implementing the OECD's new international tax information exchange standard, the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management has released timeframes for the necessary changes:

  • During the first half of 2016, the Cook Islands will be subject to a high-level review by the Global Forum on confidentiality;
  • By December 31, 2016, new legislation and regulations will be tabled;
  • After January 1, 2017, customer due diligence will take place and financial institutions will need to implement new account procedures;
  • By the second quarter of 2018, financial institutions will need to ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to exchange the data; and
  • By September 2018, the Cook Islands will begin reporting with treaty partners.

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