Singapore vows to change tax laws to remove havens


Singapore has vowed to amend its tax laws within the year after being named in a list of countries that have not yet fully implemented global standards aimed at eliminating tax havens.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) last week said Singapore was one of the countries that had not yet carried out their commitments to respecting global standards on exchanging tax information.

Singapore “intends to implement the standard by effecting legislative amendments later this year,” a finance ministry spokesperson said in reply to a query from AFP at the weekend.

The OECD, which groups the world’s leading developed nations, listed 38 countries and territories that “have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard, but have not yet substantially implemented” the measures.

As well as Singapore the list also includes Belgium, Brunei, Chile, the Dutch Antilles, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and Caribbean island nations including the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The OECD released the list after the Group of 20 summit in London agreed to crack down on tax havens.

“As expected, Singapore has not been classified by the OECD as a tax haven but as a financial centre that has committed to the internationally recognised tax standard,” the Singapore finance ministry said.

“This recognises that Singapore has endorsed the OECD standard for the exchange of information through Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs), and intends to implement the standard by effecting legislative amendments later this year and negotiating and concluding relevant DTAs.”

It added that “Singapore’s position in this regard is no different from that of other major financial centres such as Hong Kong, Switzerland and Luxembourg, which the OECD has similarly recognised as jurisdictions that have committed to implementing the OECD standard.”