BVI Now Cooperating With International Tax Laws, Bahamas, Antigua, Belize Still Blacklisted By European Union.

Tax havens allow non-residents to escape high taxes by putting their assets or businesses in that jurisdiction (Image courtesy Investopedia)
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The EU this week added Antigua and Barbuda, Belize and Seychelles to its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, while also removing the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and the Marshall Islands. This keeps it at 16 countries.

“The council regrets that these jurisdictions are not yet cooperative on tax matters, and invites them to improve their legal framework in order to resolve the identified issues,” the EU said in a statement.

Besides The Bahamas, the other 15 are American Samoa; Antigua and Barbuda; Anguilla; The Bahamas; Belize; Fiji; Guam; Palau; Panama; Russia; Samoa; Seychelles; Trinidad and Tobago; the Turks and Caicos Islands; US Virgin Islands; and Vanuatu.

The EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions was established in December 2017.

Jurisdictions are assessed on set criteria covering tax transparency, fair taxation and implementation of international standards designed to prevent tax base erosion and profit shifting.

In a statement, the EU Council noted that the “British Virgin Islands  was removed from the list as it has amended its framework on exchange of information on request (criterion 1.2) and will be reassessed in accordance with the OECD standard.  Pending this reassessment this jurisdiction has been included in Annex II.”

This recognises the legislative changes (including BVI Business Companies Amendment Act 2022, and BVI Business Amendment Regulations 2022) made in 2022 and which came into force on 1 January 2023, to meet requirements set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes as part of its Peer Review Process.

As such, the BVI has now been reinstated to the state of play document (Annex II) which includes jurisdictions committed to implementing reforms.

Commenting on the announcement, BVI Minister for Financial Services, Labour, and Trade, Honourable Lorna Smith, OBE said: “We welcome the announcement that the BVI has been removed from Annex I of the EU list, which reflects the current state of play in the BVI.  As a world-class international financial centre, the BVI is committed to maintaining the highest international standards on transparency and regulation.”

Meanwhile in the Bahamas the Attorney General Ryan Pinder vigorously repudiated the continued blacklisting of the island group, claiming that the EU was relying on outdated information that no longer applied as far as the Bahamas was concerned.

Pinder, who had previously voiced optimism that The Bahamas would be delisted this month, told Tribune Business, a publication based in the Bahamas, that the Davis administration was “rather disappointed but not surprised” that this nation has not been permitted to escape what is a 16 nation-strong tax ‘blacklist’.

He explained that the EU based its decision on an April 2023 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) Forum on Harmful Tax Practices, which is now some six months out-of-date and does not include or account for The Bahamas’ subsequent reforms to its economic substance laws, their enforcement and the online reporting portal.

Sources: News agencies, press releases.



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