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Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: Peer Review to Combat Cross-Border Tax Evasion

(Apr. 2, 2010) Member countries of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information (GFTEI) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have recently launched a new peer review mechanism to help combat cross-border tax evasion. The first group of 18 jurisdictions to implement the process includes: Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Botswana, Canada, Cayman Islands, Denmark, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Jersey, Mauritius, Monaco, Norway, Panama, Qatar, Trinidad & Tobago. The GFTEI's 91 member countries and territories include both OECD-member and non-OECD-member jurisdictions. It has been agreed that “all members as well as identified non members will undergo reviews on their implementation of the [information exchange] standard.” (Tax Transparency – Global Forum Launches Country-By-Country Reviews, OECD website, Mar. 18, 2010, available at,3343,en_2649_37427_44826640_1_1_1_1,00

The reviews are the first step in a three-year plan to improve tax transparency and information exchange approved by the GFTEI in February 2010, in response to G20 leaders' call for such improvements made at their summit meeting in September 2009. The GFTEI made public three other key documents, in addition to the complete schedule of the upcoming peer reviews, covering: the methodology for conducting the reviews, the assessment criteria to be used in rating the participant countries, and the terms of reference for explaining the standard of information exchange to be met by the countries. (Id. Note that the article provides a hyperlink to each document.) The review is a two-stage process, consisting of: 1) assessment of the jurisdiction's legislative and regulatory framework and 2) assessment of the implementation in practice. Once a review report has been adopted by the GFTEI, it will be published. (Id.)

According to GFTEI Chairman Mike Rawstron:

This is the most comprehensive, in-depth review on international tax co-operation ever. There has been a lot of progress over the past 18 months, but with these reviews we are putting international tax co-operation under a magnifying glass. The peer review process will identify jurisdictions that are not implementing the standards. These will be provided with guidance on the changes required and a deadline to report back on the improvements they have made. (Id.)