Switzerland news: banking and international industry welcome OECD’s new global information exchange standard

The Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung covers the announcement of the OECD’s global standard for automatic information with the headline “New tax reality” and the subheader “pressure on bank secrecy”:

“The OECD has moved closer to its goal of burying bank secrecy…data should flow between states starting in 2017. This year should enter the annals of the financial industry as a turning point for banking secrecy.”

“Officially Switzerland welcomes the completion of the new standards; among other things…because it creates a level playing field in competition among financial centers.”

A sidebar also notes that “Banks’ estimates of the costs have been reduced”:

“The implementation of the OECD’s Automatic Exchange of Information now seems to be less costly than originally thought. The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) has reduced its estimates of the cost of Automatic Information exchange to 300 to 600 million CHF from 500 to 800 million francs.”

It also mentions that the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC), which represents industry in the OECD, was “satisfied”: “Thanks to a constructive dialogue with the OECD, the potentially high additional costs could be lowered.”

The BIAC website (“the voice of OECD business”) lists the OECD’s work on international taxation and profit-shifting (BEPs) as a Key Topic. Among the members of the BIAC’s Taxation and Fiscal Policy Committee are representatives of GE, Shell, PWC and the US Council for International Business.

Unfortunately, not everybody is equally satisfied with the new standard, especially from a developing country perspective. Christian Aid notes that the OECD standard “will not benefit poor countries”, while the Tax Justice Network calls it “Good news for the few” saying that developing countries

“will find it especially difficult to implement the multilateral standard as it demands reciprocity. In other words they will only be able to access information if they themselves collect information and commit to send it to other countries. The earlier commitment by the OECD to provide assistance to developing countries wishing to receive support to implement these systems has vanished from the written documents.”

(Original NZZ article in German, translation with some help from google.)

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