Fighting tax havens (February 12, 2015)

The fight against tax havens has gradually become a priority on the international diplomatic agenda, as the erosion of tax bases is even more harmful during times of crisis and tight budgetary constraints. It is also a major issue in terms of development, as developing countries are the primary victims of tax avoidance or optimization strategies by multinational companies, mainly through the manipulation of inter-group transfer prices.

The definition of tax avoidance is all actions by the taxpayer seeking to reduce the amount of tax which should normally be payable. If legal methods are used, avoidance falls under the category of optimization. Conversely, if illegal techniques are used or the true extent of the income is concealed, avoidance becomes evasion.

At the instigation of France and the G20, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes has become the benchmark for international norms and standards in the fight against tax havens. This Forum, which now has 120 members, does more than simply sign bilateral exchange of information agreements but rather assesses their effectiveness through an in-depth peer-review process.

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