Singapore Joins OECD Multilateral Tax Convention
by Mary Swire, Lowtax.net, Hong Kong
21 January, 2016
On January 20, 2016, Singapore deposited with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) its instrument of ratification for the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
With this development, Singapore became the 93rd jurisdiction to join the pact, touted by the OECD as the world's leading instrument for boosting transparency and combating offshore tax evasion.
The Convention provides for all forms of administrative assistance in tax matters: exchange of information on request, spontaneous exchange, automatic exchange, tax examinations abroad, simultaneous tax examinations, and assistance in tax collection. It guarantees extensive safeguards for the protection of taxpayers' rights.
Ratifying the Convention will expand Singapore's network of partners for the exchange of information on request by 34 jurisdictions. This is part of a series of changes that Singapore has made in recent years to combat cross-border tax evasion, following Singapore's adoption of the internationally agreed standard for exchange of information on request in 2009, Singapore's Ministry of Finance said.
Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, said: "Ratifying the Convention reflects Singapore's commitment to effective exchange of information based on international standards, but the standards can only work if all financial centers, such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Hong Kong, move together. We will continue to work with our international partners to achieve this and prevent regulatory arbitrage."
The Convention was developed jointly by the OECD and the Council of Europe in 1988. It was amended in 2010 to respond to a call by the Group of Twenty (G-20) nations that it be aligned to the new international standard on the automatic exchange of information and that it be opened up to all countries.
The Convention is now seen as the instrument for swift implementation of the new Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters developed by the OECD. It will also be critical for the automatic exchange of country-by-country reports, proposed in the OECD's base erosion and profit shifting project.
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