Automatic Exchange of Information

Automatic Exchange of Information

As  of  January  1st  2016  approximately  100  countries  will  start  collecting  financial information  in  readiness  for  the  commencement  of  what  is  to  be  the  most comprehensive tool for tax authorities, on a global basis, to fight tax evasion.

This  initiative  introduced  as  part  of  the  OECD’s  updated  CRS  (Common  Reporting Standards) will introduce ‘Automatic Exchange of Financial Information’ (AEI).

The AEI, which will commence in 2017, will be based on details gathered this year and is facilitated by having financial institutions in each participating country reporting relevant  information  regarding  clients,  who  are  resident  in  another  participating country,  to  their  local  tax  authorities.  Local  tax  authorities  will  then  automatically exchange this information with their counterparts in other participating countries on an annual basis.

That ‘report’ will  involve  individuals  who  own  or  control  accounts  either  directly  or via  financial  institutions,  be  it  banks,  brokers,  investment  vehicles,  insurance companies or other financial organisations.

The  account  information  generally  includes  account  number,  balance  and  gross earnings in respect of any payments through the account including any investment income,  income  earned  from  assets  etc. The  information  on  each  person  generally includes name, address, country of residence, nationality, national insurance and tax identification numbers, place and date of birth.

This transparency is meant to be a deterrent to taxpayers using offshore accounts and assets as a means of avoiding domestic tax. The participating countries are committed to applying this procedure in order to tackle tax evasion.

By comparing the data received with what taxpayers include on their tax returns, the authorities will be able to detect where income or assets have not been declared. This will  include  many  cases  where  there  were  no  previous  indications  the  taxpayer  was not compliant.

This  is  expected  to  provide  tax  authorities  around  the  world  with  details  of  assets worth billions held abroad.

If you live in Spain and have overseas assets and/or investments that you previously thought  were  non-declarable  to  the  Spanish  authorities,  then  this  is  something  to seriously consider – the penalties for undeclared assets can be very costly, so it is vital that you report everything correctly.

It may be possible to restructure your assets in a tax efficient and compliant manner so as to better protect your wealth!