June 30, 2023
OECD releases 2023 report on tax transparency in Latin America
On 27 June 2023, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a progress report, "Tax Transparency in Latin America 2023," in connection with the eighth meeting of the Punta del Este Declaration, an initiative established in 2018 and focused on improving effective exchange of information in tax administrations in Latin America. The report provides an update on the progress achieved to date and describes how jurisdictions in the region have developed and implemented a strategy to increase the use of exchange of information as a tool to support audits and investigations using the international network and the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum).
Two outcome statements were released in connection with the meeting, describing the accomplishments to date, calling on other Latin American countries to join the initiative, and looking forward to further collaboration in Latin America on tax transparency.
The Punta Del Este Declaration,1 signed during the 2018 plenary meeting of the Global Forum, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, currently has 15 member-country signatories: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. In addition, Bolivia is an observer. The Declaration reflects a commitment to improve tax transparency in Latin America by strengthening cooperation and exchange of information among tax administrations in the region and maximizing the use of the information exchanged.
The Declaration is supported by four development partners: the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank.
Earlier progress reports on the Declaration initiative were published in July 20212 and May 2022.3
The progress report Tax Transparency in Latin America 2023 provides an update on developments in transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes achieved by 16 Latin American countries (i.e., all 15 members of the Punta del Este Declaration and Bolivia as an observer). The OCED released the report during the 26-28 June 2023 Punta del Este Declaration meeting in Asunción, Paraguay.
According to the report, during 2022 the countries benefitted from tax transparency standards and exchange of information, including both exchange of information on request (EOIR) and automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI). In aggregate, Latin American countries sent 735 requests in 2022 and reported identifying and/or collecting at least EUR 708 million of additional revenue in 2022. The report indicates that this progress is concentrated in a few countries, with some countries making significant strides in exchange of information while other countries have yet to fully use their exchange networks. The report notes that four countries sent the bulk of the Latin American requests for information in 2022: Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
The report states that a core function of the Global Forum is monitoring and reviewing the effective implementation of the EOIR standard. Global Forum member jurisdictions and relevant nonmember jurisdictions are assessed through a peer review process. Most Latin American members have undergone or are currently undergoing the second round of reviews for EOIR with positive results. The report also notes the progress that Latin American countries are making in ensuring availability of beneficial owner information, with a trend toward using a multi-pronged approach that relies on two or more sources of information.
The report states that while exchange of information can be incorporated into tax treaties and regional agreements, the process of negotiating and finalizing these agreements can be demanding in terms of resources and time. As a more expedited alternative, countries can join the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC), as it is fully in line with international standards and provides for exchange of information and other forms of administrative cooperation with 146 participating jurisdictions. Through the MAAC, Latin American countries had more than 1,900 bilateral exchange of information relationships in force as of the end of 2022. Honduras signed the MAAC in July 2022 and it is anticipated that the ratification process will be completed in 2023. Once Honduras ratifies the MAAC, all 15 Punta Del Este Declaration members will benefit from the MAAC.
The report also notes that efforts began in 2021 to implement a framework aimed at assisting interested countries in expanding and facilitating the wider use of treaty-exchanged information for non-tax purposes, such as offenses related to money laundering, terrorism financing, corruption and customs matters. This framework is described as addressing administrative arrangements, procedures and technical assistance and streamlining the consent process for use of information by non-tax authorities in accordance with the MAAC, while ensuring confidentiality. In 2022, Argentina, Costa Rica and Paraguay signed a multilateral pilot project for the wider use of treaty-exchanged information. According to the report, this pilot project indicates a promising trajectory for wider use in the region.
The report indicates that eight Latin American members of the Global Forum use Common Reporting Standard (CRS) data to enhance tax compliance and revenue collection. However, the use of this data is not yet consistent, resulting in limited revenue gains of EUR 78.2 million in 2022.
In terms of capacity-building efforts in Latin America, the report states that all members of the Punta del Este Declaration benefitted from some form of technical assistance from the Secretariat of the Global Forum and the development partners during 2022. This support included practical toolkits, e-learning resources and the delivery of training programs.
The report concludes by noting that Latin American countries are making progress in the implementation of tax transparency standards and reaping benefits from exchange of information. However, this positive trend is uneven because the countries have not all attained the same level of maturity.
In 2023, efforts will focus on supporting Latin American countries in implementing tax-transparency standards. The Global Forum and the development partners will provide capacity building to enhance exchange of information infrastructure and ensure full implementation of exchange of information on beneficial ownership transparency. The initiative will also raise awareness, build knowledge, and offer technical support to facilitate the implementation of all necessary components for timely adoption of AEOI.
Statements of outcomes
On 26 June 2023, 38 participants representing 11 Latin American countries, including four Ministers and Vice Ministers of Finance and four Tax Commissioners, along with representatives of three development partners and other organizations, had a working dinner in honor of the fifth anniversary of the Punta del Este Declaration. In a statement of outcomes, released following the dinner, participants called on Latin American countries that are not Global Forum members to join the international efforts on tax transparency and exchange of information by becoming members of the Global Forum and joining the Latin America initiative. The statement also indicates that participants discussed the future of the initiative, reiterating the need to support capacity development and improvement of tax investigations by improving the use of exchange of information tools and exploring other forms of administrative tax cooperation. The statement also notes the need to pursue the work on "wider use" of treaty-exchanged information and to help address emerging tax transparency challenges such as cryptocurrencies.
An additional statement of outcomes, released on 28 June 2023 at the conclusion of the Punta del Este Declaration meeting, outlines the participants' a pilot project to widen the use of the information exchanged through tax-treaty channels for non-tax purposes. The statement highlights the project's importance in addressing practical challenges that participants faced in using this form of cooperation and in supporting a whole-of-government approach. The statement also indicates that participants discussed the technical aspects of tax transparency in the region, including (i) how countries are adapting legal frameworks to fully implement with standards, (ii) the importance of promoting the use of exchange of information within tax administrations, and (iii) approaches for ensuring financial institutions' compliance with their due diligence and reporting obligations under the CRS. It further notes that participants discussed the reasons why other forms of cooperation such as tax examination abroad, simultaneous tax examination, and cross-border assistance in tax collection have not yet been explored in the region. Finally, the statement indicates that the delegates agreed to meet again in November 2023 at the Global Forum plenary meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.
As tax administrations continue to focus on expanding access to information, they receive and share an ever-increasing amount of information. Businesses face heightened scrutiny and the potential for additional inquiries if the information available to tax authorities is not clear. It is important for businesses to monitor developments in this area and to prepare for new information reporting requirements associated with global tax policy changes, including the global minimum tax rules under Pillar Two of the OECD/G20 BEPS 2.0 project.
For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:
Ernst & Young Belastingadviseurs LLP
Ernst & Young LLP (United States)
EY LATAM North Holdings, S.A.
Ernst & Young Asesores Empresariales SCRL
EYS Equipo y Soluciones SA de CV
Published by NTD's Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Carolyn Wright, legal editor