TT may soon be the lone Caribbean country on the European Union's (EU) list of tax havens (blacklist). The Bahamas and St Kitts are expected to be removed when EU finance ministers meet in Brussels next week. However government is one step closer to resolving the issue through legislation being laid in Parliament on May 25 and 28.
Attorney General (AG) Faris Al Rawi told Newsday, "We will today (Friday) be laying the Global Forum package of legislation – the TT Revenue Authority Bill, the Multilateral Conventions package legislation and amendments to the Board of Inland Revenue Act.
"On Monday we'll be laying the Tax Information Exchange Agreements Bill. That takes us to the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) position as well. Therefore we are on track for the fulfilment of the commitment to the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum)."
BEPS – an initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – was designed to address corporate tax planning strategies used by multinational companies to artificially "shift" profits from higher-tax locations to lower-tax locations, thus "eroding" the tax-base of the higher-tax locations.
The Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Bill (2018) requires a three-fifths majority, which is why Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Friday referred it to a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament.
Imbert also referred the Income Tax Amendment Bill (2018) and the TT Revenue Authority Bill (2018) to a JSC.
Passage and implementation of the first two Bills are required to get TT off the EU blacklist. Al Rawi said while the Revenue Authority legislation isn't required, it "will assist".
The Tax Information Exchange Agreements Bill will also go before a JSC because it requires three-fifths majority support.
Commenting on this, Opposition MP Ganga Singh told Newsday "once the legislation is in the national interest, we will support it."
He welcomed the JSC referrals. "It is always prudent to look, with some level of intensity, at legislation that infringes the constitution."
Singh warned though, government can't "come at the eleventh hour to try and force things down the Opposition's throat."
In addition to legislation, government has been holding regular working sessions with representatives from the EU, OECD and Global Forum.
The most recent meeting was held in Trinidad on May 21, where Al Rawi updated an EU delegation on government's plans.