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  1. Wealth
May 2, 2013

Saffery Champness: British Overseas Territories tax agreement is a small step to tax transparency

By Spear's

Honest taxpayers across the globe will applaud the efforts to bring evaders to book and the agreement is a huge step in the right direction, but a great deal more remains to be done

HM Treasury has today announced a new tax information-sharing agreement agreement with five British Overseas Territories – Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The deal has been hailed as “a turning point in the fight against tax evasion” but according to top 20 accountancy firm Saffery Champness, there is a lot more to be done to ensure full international cooperation on tax transparency.

Ronnie Ludwig, partner in the private wealth group at Saffery Champness comments:

“Honest taxpayers across the globe will applaud the efforts to bring evaders to book and the agreement is a huge step in the right direction, but a great deal more remains to be done. Today’s agreement paves the way for automatic information-sharing with France, Germany, Italy and Spain as well as the UK by the Caribbean financial centres but that still falls far short of a truly global initiative.

Read more: British Virgin Islands tax scandal

“Interestingly, Transparency International rankings published in 2008 identified the US as having the world’s most secret jurisdiction – ahead of the Cayman Islands as well as Switzerland and Luxembourg.

“The agreement also raises some interesting questions about resourcing at HM Revenue & Customs. The department is under significant pressure to provide an immediate boost to recession-stricken Treasury coffers but remains severely under-resourced. As the flow of information to be analysed as part of its work increases, will HMRC have the manpower to make the most of increasing global tax transparency?”

Read more about tax avoidance

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