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Govt: All Opposition concerns addressed

CLINT CHAN TACK Friday, January 6 2017

GOVERNMENT yesterday said all of the Opposition’s concerns about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) legislation have been addressed. This statement came from the Finance Ministry 24 hours before the House of Representatives sits at 1.30 pm today to resume its committee deliberations on the Tax Information Exchange Agreement Bill 2016. The Opposition blanked debate on the bill on September 23, December 9 and December 12. The Opposition’s concerns to the bill were highlighted in a paid newspaper advertisement.

The Finance Ministry began its statement by reminding the public that the bill complies with the Model One reciprocal agreement which was approved by the former Kamla Persad- Bissessar administration in May and October 2013. Cabinet minutes from that time period showed the former regime agreed that TT adopt this agreement option of the inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with the US which enables compliance with the requirements of FATCA.

Those Cabinet minutes also showed the former regime agreed that the Finance Minister enter into the Model One agreement with the US. The ministry then outlined all of the amendments made by Government to the bill, in the absence of the Opposition on December 12, 2016, and the reasons for them. The Opposition’s amendment that the competent authority which the US Treasury interacts with be the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) has been dealt with in the amendment to Clause Four of the bill.

The Government removed the provision for the declaration of tax information exchange agreements by Order under the Act, with the deletion of Clause Five. The Opposition proposed an amendment be made to this clause for the order to be made the Finance Minister, to be subject to the affirmative resolution of Parliament.

The ministry explained this was unnecessary because the deletion of the clause means, “agreements will not be declared by Order under the Act.” The ministry said the amendment to Clause Eight of the bill provides for the disclosure of information for the purpose of the 1989 tax information exchange agreement, “despite the secrecy provision of the Income Tax Act and some provisions of the Data Protection Act.

A similar provision is made in Part Three for the purpose of the 2016 IGA, which Finance Minister Colm Imbert signed on August 19, 2016.

The amendment to Clause 18 of the bill allows the BIR to enter into an agreement with the competent authority in the US with respect to procedural matters.

The Opposition suggested the memorandum of understanding (MOU) be subject to the affirmative resolution of Parliament prior to execution.



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