Mover of the Bill, Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, said the amendments are part of his government’s efforts to ensure that the country’s legislations, particularly as it relates to information impacting upon taxation and fiscal matters, comport well with the expectations of the international community.
Since 2015, the Team Unity-led Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has brought several pieces of legislation before the Honourable House, which seek to address matters relating to tax transparency and the exchange of information.
“By way of the enactment of these legislations, the government has signaled to the global community in no uncertain terms the seriousness with which St. Kitts and Nevis takes its commitment to the implementation of the relevant international standards that promote transparency and information exchange for tax purposes, while at the same time discouraging tax evasion [and] schemes operating in our jurisdictions,” Prime Minister Harris disclosed.
The Finance Minister noted that St. Kitts and Nevis has supported the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which is the premier international body that ensures the implementation of the international standards on tax transparency. As a result, the country has increased its treaty network to the point where it now has 21 tax information exchange agreements – at least seven of which were signed in the last three years.
These agreements include the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, as well as the OECD’s Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS), which comprises over 100 jurisdictions that are collaborating on the implementation of the OECD/G20 anti-BEPS Package. The Package aims to tackle BEPS practices, which refer to tax avoidance strategies that involve artificially shifting profits to low- or no-tax locations.
Prime Minister Harris added, “Each and every action that this Government has taken was to ensure that the financial services sector and the Federation as a whole remain credible and could stand up to the scrutiny of international assessments.”
The twin island Federation has also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement to facilitate the automatic exchange of financial account information in accordance with the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).