Singapore strengthens international tax cooperation framework

Singapore is taking steps to improve its ability to cooperate with other countries to combat cross-border tax offences.

These moves are the latest that Singapore has made to strengthen its system of cooperation with other countries, since endorsing an internationally agreed standard for the Exchange of Information (EOI) for tax purposes in 2009.

Firstly, Singapore will extend EOI assistance in accordance with the standard to all its existing tax agreement partners, without having to update individually its bilateral agreements with them.

Secondly, Singapore will sign the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. This is an international agreement for bilateral tax cooperation among the convention's signatories.

There are 45 signatories to the convention. By signing on to it, Singapore's network of EOI partners will increase by 11 jurisdictions, including Brazil and the United States.

Thirdly, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore will be allowed to obtain bank and trust information from financial institutions without having to seek a court order.

Removing this step will allow Singapore to respond to its EOI partners' requests for information faster, and taxpayers will continue to have the right of appeal.

Finally, Singapore will conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the US that will help financial institutions here comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca).

Fatca is a US law which requires all financial institutions outside the US to pass information about financial accounts held by US persons to the US Inland Revenue Service on a regular basis.

The IGA that Singapore is signing with the US will allow financial institutions here to report such information to IRAS, which will in turn provide the information to the US.

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