16/04/2003

Laws clamp down on cross-border tax evasion

Automatic exchange of information between tax authorities to combat cross-border tax evasion on savings income came a step closer today with the publication of the Finance Bill.

The Bill includes legislation that will enable the Inland Revenue to collect information automatically about the payment of savings income to overseas residents, and to exchange it with other countries. In particular, it will enable the UK to implement the draft European Directive on the Taxation of Savings once it is adopted.

The European Council reached political agreement on key aspects of the Directive in January. The Directive will help combat cross-border tax evasion by individuals by enabling the UK and other EU countries to ensure that savings income is correctly reported.

Under the proposals, businesses and public bodies that make savings income payments to, or collect savings income payments for, individuals resident overseas will have to report details on the individuals, and the payments made, to the Inland Revenue.

Also as an alternative to exchanging information about cross-border payments, three EU countries (Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg) will, for a transitional period, impose a withholding tax. UK residents receiving interest from these countries may request that tax is not withheld.

The Directive will not take effect before 1 January 2005.

(GMcG)

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