Singapore, Australia to share financial data to stop tax evasion

The tax authorities of Singapore and Australia have agreed to share financial account information to fight tax evasion.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) announced that they have entered into a Competent Authority Agreement on the automatic exchange of financial account information.

The automatic exchange of information will be based on the Common Reporting Standard developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Under the agreement, Iras will automatically exchange with its Australian counterpart financial account information of accounts in Singapore held by Australian tax residents.

The ATO will automatically exchange with Iras the same of accounts in Australia held by Singapore tax residents.

Singapore and Australia's information sharing under the Common Reporting Standard will start by September 2018.

The standard sets out the financial account information to be exchanged, the financial institutions required to report, the different types of accounts and taxpayers covered, as well as common due-diligence procedures to be followed by financial institutions.

More than 100 jurisdictions have endorsed the standard and will commence automatic exchange of information in either 2017 or 2018.

"Both jurisdictions are satisfied with the confidentiality rules and data safeguards that are in place in the other jurisdiction to ensure the confidentiality of information exchanged and prevent its unauthorised use," Iras and the ATO said in their statement.

With the agreement, Singapore and Australia have taken another step in enhancing cooperation to support greater tax transparency and to fight against tax evasion, they said.

Both jurisdictions will work towards implementing automatic exchange of information with other major financial centres to ensure a level playing field, they added.

Ann Williams

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore, Australia to share financial data to stop tax evasion'. Print Edition | Subscribe