Stepping up efforts to tackle tax evasion,the 45-nation grouping on tax administration,which includes India,has agreed to share among themselves information received by member countries from “offshore leaks”.
A worldwide media expose,described as “offshore leaks” claimed to have unearthed details of 2.5 lakh individuals and entities from over 170 countries,including India,who evaded taxes by setting up companies in tax havens.
The Forum on Tax Administration (FTA),during the last meeting in Moscow which saw participation of representatives from 45 nations,resolved to share more data among the member nations to address the menace of tax fraud.
Among others,Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose attended the meeting held on May 16 and 17 in Moscow.
FTA was set up in July 2002 by the Paris-based think tank Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“The main resolutions (at the Moscow meet) were to better share data to address tax fraud. In particular,the UK,the US and Australia decided to share the data they recently found (“offshore leaks”),” a senior OECD official said.
As per the communique issued after the meeting,three FTA members – Australia,the UK and the US – have obtained a very significant amount of data,revealing complex offshore structures.
Noting that relevant information would be shared with member nations,FTA said,”given the magnitude and complexity of the data we will work together to analyse it”.
According to the OECD official,India is actively supporting the work done by FTA.
“India was active and actively supported the work. They in particular pushed for the inclusion of the reference to better debt collection,including through international
assistance,” the official said.
Meanwhile,the communique noted that several FTA members have called on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to share the data they have acquired about offshore evasion.
“We would encourage any party that holds such information to share it with the relevant tax authorities,redacted if necessary to protect their sources,” it said.
The ICIJ has reportedly found a trove of 2.5 million digital files,detailing “secrets of more than 1,20,000 offshore companies and trusts and nearly 1,30,000 individuals
Meanwhile,the FTA has developed tools to improve the gathering of information on cross-border financial transfers,to decode banking transactions and to identify the beneficial owners of complex structures.
It has also identified “particular synergies,in combating tax and customs evasion and avoidance” to tackle tax evasion and crimes.