[Jeffrey] Owens, director of the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, told the conference audience that automatic information exchange would not work, because, "For developing countries, it would be very hard for them to manage an enormous flow of information."
IPS pressed Owens to explain why the EU had insisted on automatic information sharing for its own European Union Tax Savings Directive effected in 2005, but those countries, who dominate the OECD, appeared to think it was not good for the rest of the world. He replied, "There is nothing stopping developing countries in its treaties from using automatic information sharing, but you have to be sure you can use the information." He said he had visited the office of an unnamed tax commissioner and noticed boxes marked "IRS" [the U.S. Internal Revenue Service] stacked against the wall. He explained that the commissioner said "he got all this information and didn't know what to do with it."
I do admit I simply don’t believe this. I’m not suggesting Jeffrey is lying: I’m sure he isn’t. I just don’t believe that his response wasn’t to get really angry and say “Why the heck are they sending data in paper form?”.
This is 2009. Electronic transmission of data — secure electronic transmission of data at that — can be done around the world. No one needs paper to do this.
As I’ve noted: this could be done on an Excel spreadsheet in extremis — but it would work and let the developing country decide what data it did, and did not, want to use.
Instead the OECD attitude is it knows best, it should decide what developing countries are allowed, it has decided developing countries really aren’t capable, and it will decide if it will make them so. This is deeply patronising and is exactly why the OECD cannot lead the campaign on tax havens: they have the wrong frame of mind to do so — and are far too wedded to their own petty belief in the superiority of their own system to ever take notice of anyone else.
You can see why the developing world don’t trust them.