U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and Netherlands form international tax enforcement group

According to an article by Michael Cohn in Accounting Today, a multi-lateral tax enforcement group has been formed. TThe Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (or J5 for short), intend to “collaborate in fighting international and transnational tax crimes and money laundering.”

Membership of the J5 includes the heads of tax crime and senior officials from Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS CI), Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the U.K., the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD).

Leaders of the group met Thursday in Montreal to formulate their plans. The J5 plans to work together to gather and share information and intelligence, as well as conduct operations and build capacity for tax crime enforcement officials. Areas of focus include cybercrime and cryptocurrency, data analytics, and enablers and facilitators of tax crimes. The alliance will concentrate on building international enforcement capacity, as well as enhancing operational capability by piloting new approaches and conducting joint operations, to bring perpetrators who enable and facilitate offshore tax crime to justice

While it sounds like the planned operations will be aimed at bigger fish, what will be interesting to see is how Canada and the Netherlands proceed. Both countries have Mutual Collection Assistance provisions in their tax treaties with the U.S. (as do France, Sweden and Denmark) that indicate they will not collect from their own citizens if they were citizens when the tax was incurred. And of course, in the case of Canada, no collection of FBAR penalties. Unless I misunderstand, it sounds like the J5 intend to move into enforcement, which sounds like collection to me.

It appears that in addition to provisions in any number of DTA’s, we now have several “information exchange” programs/policies/statutes such as Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (#FATCA) , the Common Reporting Standard (#)CRS and the OECD’s CONVENTION ON MUTUAL ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANCE IN TAX MATTERS . It is difficult enough to read ONE treaty and comprehend what is covered. How is one to evaluate ALL of the aspects that are touched upon by these different programs?

Up to now the one principle that protected one from extraterritorial collection was the revenue rule. A
paper I came across years ago (dated 2004) by Professor Vern Krishna was already predicting the fall of the “revenue rule.” This paper was written a few months after the U.S. passed the American Jobs Creation Act, (see page 154 from link) while removing the issue of intent* to avoid paying tax when renouncing, also created the notion of “tax citizenship.” When relinquishing or renouncing, the requirements of notifying the State Department and filing information with the IRS were added to the process. Four years away from the H.E.A.R.T. Act (the Exit Tax 877A) and 6 years from
H.I.R.E. Act ( FATCA).

In tax law, absent special enforcement treaties, sovereign countries do not enforce the revenue laws
of other countries (the “revenue rule”).

To overcome this rule, many countries negotiate bilateral treaties for information disclosure and
mutual enforcement assistance to counter tax evasion.

In theory, the common law revenue rule reflects the principle that a country has exclusive
sovereignty over its tax policy. However, Lord Mansfield’s rule has limited scope in a world of
increasing regulatory supervision and information exchange between countries on money
laundering and terrorism financing.

The traditional rule that a country will not enforce the revenue laws of another country
and that no country is under an obligation to disclose financial information to foreign governments is very much on its way to extinction.

What do you think? Will all these actions eventually result in a system where there are no privacy laws concerning one’s finances, every bloody dime one earns will be owed to someone as tax?

*****

*removed the intent issue of renouncing for tax purposes by establishing 3 tests (income, asset, certification of tax compliance for 5 years on form 8854) to determine

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.