Bermuda signs up to OECD tax transparency code

21 Apr 16

Bermuda has become the latest nation to adopt the OECD’s tax transparency agreement, under which detailed reports on multinational companies’ operations are shared between tax administrations.

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Hamilton, Bermuda

Analysts estimate Google recorded more than $40bn in profits in Bermuda last year.

 

Thought to be one of the world’s most popular tax havens, the British overseas territory hosts subsidiaries of companies including Nike, Pepsi, and Google, which analysts estimate amassed $43bn worth of profits in the small, Caribbean island last year.

But Bob Richards, the country’s minister of finance, said the government had fallen in line with the OECD’s transparency regime and was “setting an example” in signing up to best practice in tax transparency without hesitation.

Under the deal, companies must submit detailed reports on their operations in every country in which they operate to the tax administration in the country where their parent company is located.

The reports, which will be compiled from this year onwards, will then be shared automatically with all relevant jurisdictions, starting in 2017-18.

The arrangement makes profit shifting by multinational corporations, where profits are artificially moved to lower tax jurisdictions like Bermuda, easier to identify.

“Our government is committed to upholding international best practice in tax transparency,” Richards said, reports Bermuda’s Royal Gazette.

 “We were one of the first jurisdictions in the world to sign up to the common reporting standard in 2014. I am proud Bermuda is again setting an example in adopting country-by-country reporting without hesitation.”

The news comes just weeks after tax havens became the target of global outrage following the publication of the Panama Papers, which exposed how the rich and powerful use them to get around paying their fair share of tax.

The UK prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne have since been under increasing pressure to bring British overseas territories, like Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands, which was the main destination for offshore wealth in the Panama Papers, in line.

Also this week, the International Monetary Fund, OECD, United Nations and the World Bank announced the details of a plan to intensify their cooperation on tax issues.

Named the Platform for Tax Collaboration, the initiative will see the four organisations regularly meet to discuss the design and implementation of international tax rules, strengthen capacity-building and offer guidance.

The platform will deliver a number of “toolkits” designed to help developing countries implement the new international tax standards developed under the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project – an overhaul of the international tax architecture of which the collection and exchange of country-by-country reports is part. 

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