The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced last week that it will assemble tax officials from its various member nations to discuss ways that governments can learn and improve policies in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.
The OECD nations will attempt to find ways to share information and analyze the data flowing from the Panama Papers investigation to tighten up their own tax laws and to prevent the type of sheltering that is alleged to have occurred in Panama.
The initiative has been spearheaded by the Australian Tax Office (ATO), and its Commissioner, Chris Jordan. Jordan has asked the OECD's Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (JITSIC) network to assemble for high-level talks following the revelations of the Panama Papers. The JITSIC will bring together the senior tax officials of some 46 countries in Paris on Wednesday.
When announcing the date for the meeting, the OECD’s spokesman said, “Government officials from around the world have called upon OECD to convene a special meeting of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (JITSIC) network to explore possibilities of cooperation and information-sharing, identify tax compliance risks and agree on collaborative action in the light of the ‘Panama Papers.’”
According to an ATO spokesman, speaking with Reuters earlier this week, "The meeting will consider how member jurisdictions can share information on leaked documents, and collaborate on analyzing the data and opportunities for joint action…A key outcome of Wednesday's meeting will be to develop a joint and coordinated response, including a commitment to collaborate and share data, analytical methodologies and future joint compliance action."
The Panama Papers scandal has brought to light the problems of international tax havens and governments whose tax policies lack adequate transparency. Governments around the globe have been forced to probe possible financial improprieties by corporations, private citizens, and heads of state in the aftermath of the leaked data.
The Panama Papers included the details of hundreds of thousands of clients of the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. The firm appears to have been involved in assisting its clients avoid taxes by a variety of methods that might violate the laws of the clients’ various home nations, thanks to Panama’s lax tax laws.
The ATO spokesman went on to say, "The meeting of JITSIC leaders to discuss the Panama papers is unprecedented and a great opportunity to demonstrate global will and capability to take on this multilateral challenge when it matters most.”