Black Money: Automatic Information Sharing with Switzerland from 2019

Switzerland has ratified automatic exchange of financial account information with India and 40 other countries. This will facilitate Switzerland to share information about suspected black money with India and other 40 nations.

According to the Swiss Federal Council, the implementation of the exchange sharing agreement has been planned for 2018 and hence the first set of data is likely to be exchanged in 2019. The Swiss Federal Council is a top governing body of Switzerland. The exact date of automatic information exchange would be notified by the Swiss Federal Council soon as there were no procedural delays for the implementation.

However, the Swiss banks have started seeking new safeguards so as to protect the details of their clients against misuse that could expose them to crimes such as kidnapping or blackmail. So, the Swiss Council had stated that they will prepare a situation report before the first exchange of data. As per thr process, it will be ascertained whether the states and territories concerned have put in place a standard, especially those concerning confidentiality and data security. It will be assessed whether the democratic processes in these states and territories are robust or not and whether corruption is high or not etc.

Background

Switzerland has long been perceived as one of the safest havens for black money stashed abroad by Indians. The participation of Switzerland which is the world’s largest home for overseas wealth in the information sharing agreement would be a major boost in ending tax avoidance.

As a step towards fighting black money stashed abroad, ‘Joint Declaration‘ for implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) was signed between India and Switzerland on November 2016. Switzerland agreed for the introduction of the AEOI (Automatic Exchange of information) on tax matters under the guidance of G20, OECD and other global organisations.

AEOI, based on Common Reporting Standards, when implemented fully would put in place a system wherein bulk taxpayer information will be sent periodically from the source country of income to the country of residence of taxpayer. It would enable India to get access to information virtually from almost all the countries in the world including offshore financial centres.

Switzerland has said the AEOI will be implemented based on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (AEOI). The MCAA is based on the international standard for the exchange of information developed by the OECD. India, on its part has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data received.

India joined the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information on 3rd June, 2015. According to the OECD, MCAA is a multilateral framework agreement that provides a standardised and efficient mechanism to facilitate the automatic exchange of information and avoids the need for the conclusion of several bilateral agreements.

Black money is that amount of money which is liable for taxation, but on which tax is not paid or evaded. It is usually received in cash from underground economic activity and, as such, is not taxed.

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