Wealth & Risk Management Blog

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Update on Voluntary Disclosure Programmes: A Pathway to Tax Compliance

Posted by William Byrnes on August 18, 2015


OECDThis second edition reflects the wealth of practical experience gained by 47 countries gained in relation to voluntary disclosure programmes. In addition, the guidance on the design and implementation of the programmes has been updated, particularly taking into account the views of private client advisers.

 When the OECD published the first edition its report on Voluntary Disclosure Programmes in 2010, it was just 18 months after the G20 Leaders had declared the end of the era of banking secrecy and called upon countries to implement the standard on exchange of information on request. In that very short time, considerable progress in the global fight against offshore evasion had been made, with more than 500 tax information exchange agreements having been put in place that comply with the standard.

 The work of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of information for Tax Purposes was reorganised to deliver a robust programme of peer reviews to ensure that agreed standards were being effectively implemented. At the same time, the OECD has always recognised the importance of offering taxpayers the opportunity to become compliant and has encouraged governments to enable people who want to regularise their tax affairs to declare the income and wealth they have concealed in the past. Voluntary disclosure programmes offer such taxpayers a way to do this and for governments a way to secure payment of missing revenue, using relatively limited administrative resources.

 Since 2010, a very substantial amount of further progress has been made in the area of international exchange of information and transparency in tax matters. The Global Forum now has more than 125 members and an impressive body of results from the ongoing programme of peer reviews.

Another major milestone in tax transparency was reached in 2014 with the adoption of the OECD Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters. Most financial centres have publicly committed to implementation and are working on a specific and ambitious timetable leading to the first automatic information exchanges in 2017 or 2018.

 With the implementation of the Standard being underway and providing the basis for a new level of transparency in tax matters, the time is right to update the guidance on voluntary disclosure programmes published in 2010.

 This updated report reflects the wealth of practical experience gained by 47 countries gained in relation to voluntary disclosure programmes. In addition, the guidance on the design and implementation of the programmes has been updated, particularly taking into account the views of private client advisers.

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