By P.R. VENKAT
The Singapore government is proposing changes to its tax laws to meet demands from the U.S. and Europe to clamp down on bank secrecy.
“Singapore will seek to amend its domestic laws to allow it to extend further cooperation on information exchange” via double-taxation agreements with other countries, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. It is seeking public comments through July 28 on the amendments.
The changes will allow the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore to provide foreign authorities with information on local accounts even if the request doesn’t relate to a Singapore tax matter, the ministry said.
Until now, the city-state has refused to give overseas authorities information on foreigners’ bank-deposit interest or investment gains — on the ground that the government can’t gather this information under domestic tax laws.
The ministry said requests for information will still need to be “clear, specific, relevant and consistent with the new internationally agreed standard.” It added: “The standard allows the requested jurisdiction to reject requests that are frivolous or spurious in nature or ‘fishing expeditions’ by the requesting jurisdictions.”
In May, Singapore, along with several European private-banking banking centers, found itself on an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development “gray list” of 38 countries that have agreed to improve transparency standards but haven’t signed the necessary international accords.
To comply with the new OECD rules, Singapore will need to renegotiate many of the 60 double-taxation agreements it has with other countries.