IBX-Jakarta. The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) concluded its 16th plenary meeting today, marking significant advances in its efforts to deliver transparency and exchange of information (EOI) for tax purposes for all. Over 420 delegates from 115 jurisdictions and 13 international organisations convened in Lisbon, Portugal, to discuss the progress so far and chart the future work to promote international tax co-operation. The very broad participation demonstrated the high expectations for transparency and EOI across the world, by governments, international fora and the public.
Over three days, the common resolve to further enhance international collaboration to fight tax evasion and avoidance was evident. The Global Forum underscored its unwavering commitment to inclusivity, its collective resolve to furthermore promote EOI based on an equal footing and a level-playing field and its commitment to ensure all jurisdictions benefit from the progress made.
“The Global Forum continues to lead the way in promoting transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes”, said Gaël Perraud, Chair of the Global Forum. “This is a global project that benefits all Global Forum members. I am thrilled to see our membership growing with five new jurisdictions having joined the Forum this year.
The latest Global Forum annual report , reflecting the input and results of its members, was published on 29 November 2023. It details the monitoring, peer-review, capacity-building and outreach activities undertaken throughout the year. It highlights the transformative effect of transparency and EOI to allow all jurisdictions to safeguard their public finances and to promote domestic resource mobilisation. Delegates welcomed Fiji as 169th member of the Global Forum, and the announcement, on 1 December 2023, that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also joining the Global Forum as 170th member.
Delegates emphasised the growing participation in the automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI), showing its expanding coverage and impact. With two additional jurisdictions committed to commencing AEOI by 2026, 123 jurisdictions are now engaged, including 48 developing jurisdictions. In 2022, information on over 123 million financial accounts, covering total financial assets of over EUR 12 trillion, was exchanged automatically. Furthermore, more than 126 billion EUR of additional revenues (tax, interests and penalties) have already been identified since 2009, through offshore tax investigations, voluntary disclosure programmes and related initiatives, including ovejr EUR 41 billion by developing countries.
Published during the plenary meeting, Peer Review of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information 2023 Update presents the latest conclusions of the peer reviews of the legal frameworks put in place by jurisdictions to implement the AEOI Standard and two new initial effectiveness reviews. It builds on the 2022 report, with results for around 100 jurisdictions that were the first to commit to commence AEOI. In addition, members welcomed the progress made by the Global Forum’s new Crypto Asset Reporting Framework Group, established to ensure the widespread implementation of AEOI on crypto-assets. With 6 jurisdictions (Bermuda, Colombia, Faroe Islands, Indonesia, Mauritius and Monaco) adhering during the plenary to the joint statement by 48 countries of their intent to implement the global tax transparency standard for crypto-assets by 2027, the ambition of Global Forum is clear.
Global Forum members highlighted the progress achieved in implementing the standard on Transparency and Exchange of Information on Request (EOIR), with 25 EOIR peer review reports adopted and published in 2023. Sixty-two percent of the Global Forum members have now been fully reviewed in the second round of EOIR peer reviews and the ratings assigned are generally very good, with 88% of the jurisdictions obtaining satisfactory overall ratings (“Compliant” or “Largely Compliant”).
Recognising the importance of assisting all jurisdictions in reaping the benefits of transparency and EOI, Global Forum members emphasised their strong support for the wide-ranging and multifaceted capacity-building and outreach activities. So far in 2023, the Global Forum Secretariat has provided multiple forms of assistance to 89 jurisdictions and helped train over 8 200 officials, including through its flagship Train the Trainer programme, now in its third edition and deployed in most regions across the world. The second edition of the Women Leaders in Tax Transparency programme was also lauded for its progressive and impactful sessions by its 24 female participants representing 24 developing jurisdictions.
Supporting regional efforts in advancing transparency and EOI for tax purposes is a priority for the Global Forum’s capacity-building programme. Launched during the plenary, the new case study on Combating tax evasion, avoidance, and illicit financial flows to mobilise domestic resources in West Africa illustrates the power of collaboration and presents the very significant outcomes achieved by this region in only three years. The intensive technical-assistance programme is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Global Forum and the OECD, working closely with the Economic Community of West African States, the West African Economic and Monetary Union and 16 West African countries.
Global Forum members also agreed during the plenary on the establishement of a new group, to monitor and identify risks to the tax transparency standards (Group on Risk).
Finally, delegates welcomed and accepted Paraguay’s offering to host the 2024 plenary meeting.
The Global Forum is the leading multilateral body mandated to ensure that jurisdictions around the world adhere to and effectively implement both the standard on transparency and exchange of information on request and the standard of automatic exchange of information. These objectives are achieved through a robust monitoring and peer review process. The Global Forum also runs an extensive capacity-building programme to support its members in implementing the standards and help tax authorities make the best use of cross-border information sharing channels.