Gibraltar has, once again, achieved a rating of 'Largely Compliant' in an independent review of tax information exchange, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This retains Gibraltar's position alongside leading jurisdictions including the UK, US, Germany and Spain.
The Peer Review analyses the implementation of the international standard of transparency and exchange of information on request in Gibraltar. It assesses both the legal and regulatory framework as of 30 April 2020, and the practical implementation of this framework, notably concerning Exchange of Information (EOI) requests.
The overall score is based on the ratings achieved in 10 different areas. Gibraltar achieved the highest score in four of these, including:
- The rights and safeguards of individuals in an EOI context (i.e. the rights of individuals to be notified of and to appeal decisions concerning the exchange of information relating to them),
- The mechanisms Gibraltar has in place to facilitate EOI,
- the network of EOI mechanisms that Gibraltar has with other jurisdictions, and
- The rights and safeguards which Gibraltar has in place to protect tax payers and third parties and which ensure, among other things, that no information is exchanged that should be protected as a trade, industrial or commercial secret or which is subject to attorney-client privilege or which would be contrary to public policy.
Gibraltar was commended for addressing recommendations made in the previous report from 2014, including the introduction of sanctions against non-maintenance of accounting records by partnerships and trusts, and improving compliance in the balancing of access powers with taxpayer rights. Gibraltar was also commended for extending its international EOI network, and specific mention was made of the introduction of a new Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the Isle of Man, and a Double Tax Convention (DTC) with the UK, which bolsters Gibraltar's network of relationships.
The recommendations for improvement are centered largely around the increase in international standards introduced since the 2014 report, namely in 2016. It was noted that Gibraltar had made significant progress in these areas, although the continuing evolution of international standards means that Gibraltar will need to continue to develop, as it has been doing, in these areas in order to retain its high ratings going forward.
Overall, the report highlights Gibraltar's commitment to complying with international tax transparency, further cementing its reputation as an internationally-cooperative jurisdiction.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo QC MP, thanked the Finance Centre Department and Income Tax Office for their contribution over the last decade, acknowledging that the Gibraltar competent authorities' "labour-intensive" but "accomplished" task has helped to further consolidate Gibraltar's solid reputation, notably in terms of transparency and the exchange of information for tax purposes.
Minister for Financial Services, Albert Isola MP added: "This report confirms the findings of 2014, that Gibraltar is 'Largely Compliant', on a par with four major nations, that I am very pleased with and we should all be proud of."
Adrian Pilcher, partner at ISOLAS LLP, said: "Once again, Gibraltar has secured its position as a jurisdiction of choice, thanks to our high standards and robust regulation, as the jurisdiction's appeal for both residents and businesses continues to grow. As Gibraltar's oldest law firm, and a trusted partner to many, we will continue to work with industry and Government to ensure that the high standards which have earned us this accreditation are preserved and, where possible, improved."
The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (the Global Forum) is the multilateral framework within which work in the area of tax transparency and exchange of information is carried out by over 160 jurisdictions that participate in the Global Forum on an equal footing. The Global Forum is charged with the in-depth monitoring and peer review of the implementation of the international standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes (both on request and automatic).
Areas of investigation and assessment
The areas of investigation considered by the assessment team included:
- The degree to which in practice information is maintained and by whom, including the oversight and enforcement activities applied to those persons who are obliged to maintain information.
- The practical application of compulsory powers to obtain information.
- The timeliness of responses in relation to different types of requests for information e.g. ownership, accounting, banking and other information.
- The quality and completeness of EOI responses provided, based on EOI partners' feedback on the quality of the responses provided by the assessed jurisdiction.
- The comprehensiveness of the jurisdiction's exchange of information programme such as the tools and processes that have been implemented in the jurisdiction for the processing of exchange of information requests.
- The adequacy of the organisational structure and resources having regard to the exchange of information demands made on the jurisdiction.
- The practical application of the jurisdiction's rules regarding the confidentiality of information exchanged.
The Gibraltar report is accessible via the OECD iLibrary: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/taxation/global-forum-on-transparency-and-exchange-of-information-for-tax-purposes-gibraltar-2020-second-round_8b4242db-en.