Minister Van Overtveldt takes a major step forward in the fight against tax fraud

29 October 2014

Minister of Finance, Johan Van Overtveldt (N-VA), has signed an agreement related to automatic tax information exchange. This will simplify the international fight against tax fraud. Fifty or so other countries also signed the agreement. These include the names of several notorious tax havens such as Liechtenstein, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The minister also justifiably calls it “a major step forward at the global level” in detecting and curbing tax fraud.

Tax fraud is pre-eminently a problem that can never be solved by a country on its own. It is best dealt with at the European and even the global level. This requires close international cooperation on tax issues between as many countries as possible. Such cooperation has previously been established in several agreements, such as the OECD The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), established in 1961 as a result of the Marshall Plan, is a cooperation agreement between 34 countries in order to study and coordinate social and economic policy. The member countries try to solve their problems jointly and to mutually align their international policy. The organisation also collects statistical information to make comparative analyses. These OECD analyses are a valuable basis for the N-VA to test policy against itself or even to give shape to it. OECD convention and that of the Council of Europe on mutual administrative assistance. The European Union also enacted a directive on the exchange of information related to tax cooperation.

Transparency tax Also known as the “Cayman tax”, after the Cayman Islands, one of the largest tax havens in the world. A transparency tax allows the tax authorities to look through complex financial structures abroad and to tax the assets in these in their country, if the assets were only parked there in order to avoid taxation. Transparency tax
Many states have now also concluded an agreement with the United States related to the automatic exchange of financial information. This resulted in the G20 - the 19 largest economies in the world plus the European Union - and the OECD, developing a generalised regulation for automatic information exchange between its Member States. The standard agreement model has now also been signed by Belgium. According to Minister Van Overtveldt, first and foremost, it will ensure increased transparency. “Furthermore this agreement will provide major support for the introduction of the transparency tax that is part of the Federal coalition agreement”, he added.

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