Bahamas negotiates tax info sharing with 14 countries

NASSAU, Bahamas, July 31, 2009 – The Bahamas government is negotiating Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) with 14 more countries as it tries to avoid being blacklisted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Bahamas has already signed a TIEA with the United States, but the minimum number of agreements required to satisfy the standard set by the OECD is 12.

In a statement this week, the government said it had started talks to expand its tax cooperation network.

“Negotiations have commenced with Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, Germany, France, Turkey, and the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands – for Tax Information Exchange Agreements,” it said.

“It is the intention of The Bahamas to conclude negotiations on these Agreements by the end of this year.”

Additionally, the government has initiated discussions for an agreement on tax information exchange with China and proposes to initiate discussions with Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Ireland, South Africa and India.

The government said that in addition to a new legislative framework to support the expanded network of TIEAs, it has proposed that the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act be amended to enable cooperation with all countries in relation to tax offences.

“The government is confident that these activities will allow The Bahamas to meet the Exchange of Information standards that have been set by both the G-20 and the OECD on the shortest possible timetable and within the given timeframes, while avoiding any potential adverse listing,” it said.

In the OECD’s progress report issued in April, the Bahamas was placed in the ‘grey list’ of countries that have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard but have not yet substantially implemented it.

That standard requires exchange of information on request in all tax matters for the administration and enforcement of domestic tax law without regard to a domestic tax interest requirement or bank secrecy for tax purposes. It also provides for extensive safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged.

In March this year, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced in Parliament that, in light of the progress made toward the implementation of a “level-playing field” among financial centres, the government intended, as a matter of priority, to enter into negotiations to conclude appropriate arrangements to meet the global standards for tax information exchange.