Time the OECD realised this is the 21st century

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I note Bloomberg covered the conference of the British Swiss Camber of Commerce conference (which must have been a humdinger of a do). Somehow it’s only just come to my attention, but of particular note was this report:

The OECD has no agenda to push for an automatic exchange of information, Pascal Saint-Amans, head of international cooperation and tax competition at the Paris-based OECD said. In the surrounding European Union, where some nations apply an automatic information exchange, the interest paid to a resident of another member state is routinely sent to that country’s tax authorities. “Automatic exchange of information is not on the agenda,” Saint-Amans said. “It’s not even on the hidden agenda. The standard is the exchange of information on request.”

I should add I know Pascal. he’s a nice guy. But he and the OECD are just so far removed from the realities of the 21st century it’s breathtaking to think they are given opportunity to influence let alone create this debate.

The world is in financial crisis. The world needs every penny of tax revenue it can get to solve that crisis. The tax fraudsters are running amok still — the international tax gap running to hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and yet the OECD still peddles an arcane system of information exchange invented in the ear of the steam ship.

The technical capacity to exchange tax information automatically exists. I’ve explained how the problems of defining income can be overcome. I’ve explained that the data to exchange has to exist in law.

So what is missing? Just the political will needed at the OECD to actually tackle tax fraud. That’s it. That’s what’s missing. You’d really believe that they go out of their way to help fraudsters on the basis of the comments they make — because that’s what their ludicrous system of information exchange — which cannot and never will work effectively — does.

C’mon Pascal — wake up, smell the coffee and realise you’re right here, bang in the middle of the 21st century and start talking about creating systems to meet current need. OK?

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