Sunday 17 December, 2017

T&T blacklisted as tax haven by EU

Trinidad and Tobago has been named as one of 17 tax haven countries by the European Union.

On Tuesday, the EU released its first ever tax haven blacklist.

The news comes as the European Union moves to clamp down on tax avoidance by non-compliant countries and discourage the use of shell structures abroad.

According to a report by the Independent, blacklisted countries face sanctions and could lose access to EU funds.

The list of countries named include: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.

A further 47 jurisdictions were also included in a grey list.

Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man have been placed on a list of those who have committed by the end of 2018 to reform their tax structures.

This latest move by the European Union follows the release of the Paradise Papers last month which revealed the offshore interests of hundreds of high-profile companies and individuals, including Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad and Tobago was identified as one of 19 secrecy jurisdictions in the Paradise Papers.

This country was also named in the Panama Papers last year.

The Panama Papers is an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

According to the Independent UK, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs on Tuesday said the adoption of the first-ever EU blacklist of tax havens marks a key a key victory for transparency and fairness, but noted that the process does not stop here.

He said the pressure on listed countries to change must be intensified.

Moscovici went to say that blacklisted jurisdictions must face consequences in the form of dissuasive sanctions, while those that have made commitments must follow up on them quickly and credibly, adding that no one must get a free pass.

Government has responded that it is assiduously working toward becoming compliant

However, the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) is expected to make a statement on this latest development in the near future.

Recently, the BATT expressed concern after the Global Forum recognized this country as the only jurisdiction not considered to have made sufficient progress towards satisfactory implementation of the agreed tax transparency standards.