Singapore passes tax law to improve transparency

Singapore, under pressure from the G20 to improve banking transparency, passed a bill in Parliament today amending its income tax law to comply with OECD standards to fight cross border tax evasion.

The new bill enables the Singapore government to ask banks for client information in potential cases of foreign tax evasion, and not just for domestic tax cases as allowed by the previous law.
“This enhanced scope of cooperation will not only allow Singapore to provide greater assistance to its prescribed treaty partners, but also help Singapore obtain information for the enforcement of our domestic tax laws,” said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament.

The Group of 20 leading industrialised and emerging nations agreed in April to crack down on countries that failed to help in cross-border tax evasion cases.

At the time, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a “grey list” of more than 30 countries that had agreed to improve transparency but had not signed the necessary international accords, of which Singapore was one.

Singapore endorsed the OECD standard for the exchange of information for tax purposes in March and has been renegotiating existing agreements with various countries since then. These international agreements require the new domestic legislation.

Source : The Edge – 19 Oct 2009

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