Table of Contents

  • As agreed at its meeting in Berlin in 2004, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information has conducted an annual review of the legal and administrative frameworks for transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes in place in over 80 countries. This began with the publication of Tax Co-operation: Towards a Level Playing Field - 2006 Assessment by the Global Forum on Taxation, and this report is the fourth annual assessment. As the only comprehensive and objective compilation of such information, the reports have increased the understanding of the ability of countries to provide international co-operation in tax matters.

  • The achievements of the Global Forum in its first decade of work centred around the development of the standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes and engaging as many countries as possible in the Global Forum process. Over the past 18 months, the progress consists of endorsements of the standards by major financial centres and concrete steps by those financial centres to implement the standards. High standards of transparency and exchange of information are firmly entrenched as fundamental aspects of today’s global financial community.

  • The information in the summary assessments is based on the country tables in Part IV,

    which are current as of 1 January 2009. However, given the importance placed on the

    number of agreements for the exchange of information that countries have signed and the

    rapid pace of change in this area it was considered preferable that the summary

    assessments reflect the most up to date developments in this regard. Consequently, the

    information on signed agreements is current as of 31 July 2009.
  • This section provides detailed information on the framework for transparency and exchange of information in each country and is in the same format that has appeared in previous reports. This information is divided into four broad categories as with the summary assessments. The first set of tables provides information on the ability of countries to exchange information, either through international agreements such as double tax conventions, tax information exchange agreements, mutual legal assistance treaties, or by means of domestic legislation. The second set of tables provides information on the ability of tax authorities to access bank information. These tables describe whether bank secrecy is reinforced by statute, for what purposes bank information can be obtained and what procedures must be followed in order to do so. The last two sets of tables provide information on the access to and availability of ownership, identity and accounting information for companies, partnerships, trusts and foundations. These tables include information on countries’ information-gathering powers, the existence of bearer securities and requirements to maintain legal or beneficial ownership information.