G20 Finance Ministers meet in Germany on 17 and 18 March 2017

The Communiqué at the end of the meeting has a lot about tax

The wording in the Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting is hard fought over and reflects the views of the participating countries.

Global trade

The main problem was agreeing what to say about trade and this time there was no condemnation of protectionism and promotion of global trade and investment but a rather vaguer phrase was agreed which was  “to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies”.

Taxation

Three of the fifteen paragraphs in the Communique are devoted to tax and these are reproduced below. In the opening paragraph there are also a couple of sentences emphasising the importance of tax to the wellbeing of the world’s economies:

We reiterate our determination to use all policy tools - monetary, fiscal and structural - individually and collectively to achieve our goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, while enhancing economic and financial resilience. ….Fiscal policy should be used flexibly and be growth-friendly, prioritise high- quality investment, and support reforms that would provide opportunities and promote inclusiveness, while ensuring debt as a share of GDP is on a sustainable path. We emphasise that our structural reform and fiscal strategies are important components to supporting our common growth objectives and will continue to explore policy options tailored to country circumstances in line with the Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda.

The three paragraphs devoted to tax state:

We will continue our work for a globally fair and modern international tax system. We remain committed to a timely, consistent and widespread implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) package, welcome the growing membership of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS and encourage all relevant and interested countries and jurisdictions to join. We ask the OECD to report back on the progress of BEPS implementation, including on all the four minimum standards, by the Leaders Summit in July 2017. We look forward to the first signing round on 7 June 2017 of the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS and to the first automatic exchange of financial account information under the OECD Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which will commence in September 2017. We call on all jurisdictions to sign and ratify the multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and urge all relevant jurisdictions including financial centres which have not yet done so to commit without delay to implementing the CRS and to take all necessary actions, including putting in place domestic legislation, in order to start exchanges under the CRS at the latest by September 2018. Furthermore, we look forward to the OECD's preparation of a list by the Leaders Summit in July 2017 of those jurisdictions that have not yet sufficiently progressed towards a satisfactory level of implementation of the agreed international standards on tax transparency. Defensive measures will be considered against listed jurisdictions. We continue to support targeted assistance to developing countries in building their tax capacity, following in particular the principles of the Addis Tax Initiative, and support the work of the Platform for Collaboration on Tax, which will deliver a progress update by mid-2017.

We welcome the international cooperation on pro-growth tax policies and the work on tax and inclusive growth and tax certainty conducted by the OECD and the IMF. We acknowledge the report on Tax Certainty submitted to us and encourage jurisdictions to consider voluntarily the practical tools for enhanced tax certainty as proposed in that report, including with respect to dispute prevention and dispute resolution to be implemented within domestic legal frameworks and international tax treaties. We ask the OECD and the IMF to assess progress in enhancing tax certainty in 2018. As part of the BEPS project, we have undertaken a discussion on the implications of digitalisation for taxation in the OECD Task Force on the Digital Economy (TFDE). We will further work on this issue through the TFDE and ask for an interim report by the IMF and WBG Spring Meetings 2018.

As an important tool in our fight against corruption, tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering, we will advance transparency of legal persons and legal arrangements via the effective implementation of international standards and the availability of beneficial ownership information in the domestic and cross-border context. In this regard, we welcome the work by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. We look forward to a progress report from the OECD on its work in complementary tax areas relating to beneficial ownership by the time of the Leaders Summit in July 2017.