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Commonwealth roundtable to focus on international tax concerns

17 June 2016

Small Commonwealth countries and jurisdictions that offer financial services to overseas clients will meet next week to consider a response to recent international tax developments, including those raised by the Panama Papers.

The unprecedented Panama Papers leak of documents in April sparked concerns about wealthy individuals and corporations using overseas financial facilities to avoid or evade tax.

On 20-21 June, the Commonwealth International Tax Roundtable in London will bring together countries that host International Financial Centres (IFCs).  IFCs offer overseas clients services such as international banking, investment management and insurance. 

Commonwealth Secretariat tax expert, Lucas Rutherford, said the roundtable will give smaller jurisdictions that host IFCs a unique opportunity to come together to explore the recent developments and the best way forward.  “Over the last few years there have been significant and positive developments in global efforts to fix an out-of-date international taxation framework and to promote greater levels of transparency to address tax evasion and other illicit activities.

“The rapid pace of change presents challenges for all jurisdictions, but it presents a unique set of issues for small states that host IFCs. As well as ensuring that jurisdictions are aware of the implications of these developments, it is also important they are given a voice - to ensure that any international action results in a level playing field, where all jurisdictions, big or small, are held to the same standard.”

Sam Attridge, Head of Finance and Development Policy at the Commonwealth Secretariat, added: “There are few forums that bring together small jurisdictions to consider these issues. The Commonwealth, given its membership, is well placed to provide this space.”

In addition to senior officials from IFCs, tax and regulatory experts and thought leaders from various organisations such as the Global Forum on Tax Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Tax Justice Network, will also take part in the roundtable.

The event follows a call from Commonwealth Finance Ministers at their 2015 summit for members to work more closely together on issues around global taxation policies and regulations.