In This Issue….
The Role and Functions of a Competent Authority
Executive Council Desk
The Thirty–Third Meeting of the COTA Executive
Council – Dominica
COTA Essay Competition 2009 - Update
COTA GA 2010 - Announcement
Regional Seminar on the Administration of the Intra-
CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement (ICDTA)
Competent Authorities for the ICDTA
The Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands,
Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago
(2008-2010) Keep In Step
Proposed UN Code of Conduct on Cooperation in
Combating International Tax Evasion - Committee of
Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters
• British Virgin Islands
Tax Court Case
Belize – Telemedia vs Belmopan Tax Administration
• Turks and Caicos Islands
Member Culture Cross-Point
• St. Lucia St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Immediate Past President
• The Bahamas
COTA Newsletter is Researched and Produced
Alternate Member with input from COTA Members by
the CARICOM Secretariat Economic Development
Policy Tax Administration & Research Programme
Contact - firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Phone: 592 222 0001-75 Fax: 592 222 0155
The Role and Functions of a Competent Authority
In the Administration of Tax Agreements
International tax agreements or conventions are used to set out rules regarding the allocation of tax
revenues on transactions taking place between residents of the signatory countries in order to eliminate
double taxation, prevent tax avoidance and fiscal evasion. The term “Competent Authority” is used in
such agreements to describe the person, position or body in each Contracting State with the
responsibility for addressing issues and matters arising under the Agreement. Usually, the Competent
Authority for each party to a tax agreement is set out in the Definitions article and referenced in other
articles which may address its role and function. In the case of the Intra‐CARICOM Agreement for the
Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income,
Profits or Gains and Capital Gains and for the Encouragement of Regional Trade and Investment
(ICDTA), which was adopted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States in 1994, the term
“Competent Authority” is defined in Article 3(1)(b) ‐ [General Definitions] as “the Minister responsible
for Finance or his duly authorised representative”. More often than not, the authority is delegated to
an appropriate level in a contracting party’s tax administration.
In general, the role of the Competent Authority1 under a tax agreement is to ensure the appropriate
(good faith) application of the Agreement. In this regard, the main function of the Competent Authority
is to administer the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP), that is, the consultatory mechanism
established in the agreement for the resolution of disputes regarding the application and
interpretation of the double taxation provisions. While some agreements contain explicitly‐named
MAP articles, the ICDTA sets out its MAP in Article 23 – Consultation. This Article requires the
Competent Authority to –
• receive cases presented by aggrieved taxpayers which are residents of that State;
• resolve the matter by agreement with the Competent Authority of the other Member State if the
former considers the objection justified and cannot solve it by itself;
• endeavour to resolve by agreement any difficulties or doubts arising from the interpretation or
application of the Agreement.
References; Extracts from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) website: Centre for Tax Policy and
Administration and the Intra-CARICOM Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation.
The best practice guideline is that Competent Authorities should adopt a principled approach to the
resolution of cases. Discussions with other competent authorities should be conducted in a principled,
fair and objective manner with each case being considered on its own merit. The yardstick should be
consistency of positions and reciprocity with a view to arriving at appropriate opportunities for
compromise. The Competent Authority should keep taxpayers informed of the status of their cases on
an on‐going basis and their decisions should be communicated to the aggrieved taxpayer in writing. In
the event that Authorities are confronted with recurring issues, efforts should be made to obtain
bilateral agreement on the treatment of these issues.
Article 23 of the ICDTA is bolstered by Article 24 which provides for the Exchange of Information among
Contracting Parties as follows –
“The competent authorities of the Member States shall exchange such information as is
necessary for the carrying out of this Agreement and of the domestic laws of the Member
States concerning taxes covered by this Agreement in so far as the taxation thereunder is in
accordance with this Agreement …”
In effect, the information exchanged under this provision should assist a Contracting Party to prevent
and avoid the evasion of taxes. Such information shall be treated as confidential and shall be disclosed
only to the persons or bodies concerned with the assessment and collection of taxes, the enforcement
and/or prosecution in respect of appeals by taxpayers.
In the case of the ICDTA, the Exchange of Information provisions (Article 24) have not been effectively
operationalized and efforts are currently underway to address this situation. Additionally, in an effort to
improve the administration of the ICDTA and in accord with its responsibilities as Depository of
CARICOM instruments, the CARICOM Secretariat has requested all signatory Member States to urgently
notify the name and contact information of their designated Competent Authority. The notifications
received to date are set out on page 6 of this Newsletter. Those Member States which have not yet
notified are urged to notify so that a comprehensive updated list can be circulated to Tax
Signatories to the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement
The following Member States are signatories to the Agreement - Antigua and Barbuda, Belize,
Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and
Tobago (on 6 July 1994). Guyana became a signatory on 19 August 1994; Barbados on 7 July
1995; and Dominica on 1 March 1996.
Executive Council Desk
The Thirty-Third Meeting of the COTA Executive Council was held at the Fort Young Hotel, Roseau,
Commonwealth of Dominica from 9‐10 December 2010. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Marilyn
Ordonez, Acting Commissioner, Income Tax Department, Belize. Other Members of the Executive
Council who attended were Mr. Anderson Padmore, Chief Management Accountant (Ag.), Inland
Revenue Department, Barbados; Mr. Irving Williams, Comptroller, Inland Revenue Department,
Dominica (Host); Mr. Desmond Batchelor, Deputy Commissioner, Tax Audit and Assessment
Department, Ministry of Finance, Jamaica; Mr. James Charles, Comptroller of Inland Revenue, Saint
Lucia; and Mr. Henry A. Saunders, Revenue Controller, Ministry of Finance Revenue Control Unit, Inland
Revenue Department, Turks and Caicos Islands. The Meeting was facilitated by Ms. Evelyn Wayne and
Ms. Alicia Khan‐Denny from the CARICOM Secretariat.
As usual, the Executive Council reviewed the status of the delivery of the COTA Work Programme. A
priority agenda item under consideration was the 21st General Assembly and Technical Conference
(2010). The Council agreed on the Theme and Conference Topics taking into account submissions made
by Member Tax Administrations. The Council wishes to convey its thanks to all Tax Administrations which submitted
proposals for the Theme and Topics.
Another priority issue was the preparation of a new COTA Strategic Plan for 2010‐2013. This Plan which
should provide direction for the COTA work programme over the next triennium will be available for
consideration of Members at the General Assembly.
Sunset in Dominica – a thing of beauty….
Update - COTA Essay Competition 2009
The COTA Essay Competition 2009 was held over from July 2009 to October 2009 in order to
accommodate students across the region who were preoccupied with examinations earlier in the year.
The Competition is aimed in part at stimulating broad interest in taxation matters by encouraging youth
– as potential taxpayers and decision‐makers ‐ to become knowledgeable about taxation policy, as well
as to engender an interest in this field as a career choice.
The response to the Competition was fair and the CARICOM Secretariat has received 29 entries from the
Tax Administrations in 11 Member States. These entries are currently being evaluated and the winners
will be announced shortly!
The prizes for this Competition, which were donated by the Board of Inland Revenue, Government of
Trinidad and Tobago, include a laptop computer for individual winners and a desktop computer and
printer for the winning school. The Council thanks Trinidad and Tobago for its generous contribution.
Sponsorship offers for prizes for the next Essay Competition are invited from Tax Administrations.
COTA 21 General Assembly and Technical Conference 2010
The Twenty‐First COTA General Assembly and Technical Conference is scheduled to be held in
Barbados from 12‐15 July 2010. The theme agreed for this biennial event is “The Challenges of Tax
Administrations in Maintaining Efficiencies in a time of Global Economic Transformation”. The sub‐
themes proposed for the Technical Conference are:
Tax Cooperation and Tax Harmonization
Reform and Modernization to boost Efficiency and Effectiveness of Tax Administrations;
Innovative Solutions including Strategic Alliances to Enhance Tax Revenues.
Details of the proposed topics for presentation and discussion during the Technical Conference will be
circulated shortly to Tax Administrations and Invitees. The logistical arrangements for the Event will be
circulated as soon as these become available.
Information pertaining to the convening of the 2010 General Assembly and Technical Conference can be
obtained from Ms Judith Louis, Project Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ms Carmen Sukhoo‐Pertab,
Administrative Assistant (email@example.com). Tax Administrators who may be interested in
contributing to the Conference programme are invited to contact either Ms Louis or Ms Sukhoo‐Pertab
or firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Regional Seminar on the Administration of the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement (Agreement
among the Governments of the Member States of the Caribbean Community for the Avoidance of Double Taxation
and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income, Profits or Gains and Capital Gains and for
the Encouragement of Regional Trade and Investment (1994)) was held in Guyana from 30 November to 1
December 2009 under the auspices of the CARICOM Secretariat. The Seminar was attended by the designated
Competent Authorities from Jamaica, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago and other Senior Tax Administrators.
Opening remarks were delivered by Dr. Maurice Odle, Economic Adviser to the Secretary General. The Meeting
was facilitated by Mr. Carey Thompson ‐ former Tax Adviser to the Secretary‐ General of the Caribbean
Community, Ms. Evelyn Wayne ‐ Programme Manager, Mr. Bevan Narinesingh ‐ Senior Legal Officer and other
staff of the CARICOM Secretariat.
Representatives of Tax Administrations at the ICDTA Seminar
The purpose of the Seminar was to provide an opportunity
for the designated Competent Authorities and / or the
Heads of Tax Administrations to review the administration
and application of the Intra‐CARICOM Double Taxation
Agreement (ICDTA) and to address issues resulting from this
process. As noted in the Opening Remarks, “the feedback
that the Secretariat has received is that the ICDTA is one of
the most widely applied regional instruments. At the same
time, we have also received feedback that there have been
several abuses of the Agreement and that some Member
States have been disadvantaged as a consequence. This
latter situation was never intended, and therefore needs to
be urgently addressed”. This Seminar is one of the first initiatives by the Secretariat to ensure that the CARICOM
Double Taxation Agreement is administered as intended to the benefit of all signatory Member States.
After an exchange of views on the experience in applying the ICDTA, participants reviewed a draft of the Technical
Explanations which should underpin the interpretation of the provisions of the Treaty. The Technical Explanations
outlined the policy objectives as well as the rationale for Member States’ adoption of the “source principle” to
govern the Agreement. This document will be finalized by the Secretariat for use by Tax Administrations in the
application of the ICDTA.
The Seminar also engaged in an in‐depth discussion on the modalities for the effective activation of Article 24 –
Exchange of Information. Recommendations were made on the procedures to be applied to effectively
operationalize this article in the interests of all Member States.
Other issues addressed included the treatment to be accorded under the ICDTA to offshore businesses, electronic
commerce activities and transfer pricing. It was generally agreed that there was need for ongoing consultation
and collaboration among Competent Authorities to address these contemporary issues which had emerged since
the formulation and adoption of the ICDTA.
The Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement contd.
In assessing the seminar, one participant commented -
“The Seminar was a worthwhile one and was timely in dealing with the many gaps in knowledge of the
Double Taxation Treaty, Exchange of Information and Competent Authority functions. We are better off
CARICOM Secretariat staff and a representative, from St Lucia at the recently convened Seminar on
The ICDTA, Grand Coastal Hotel, Guyana.
Designated Competent Authorities (Notified to Date)
The Bahamas Mr Ehurd Cunningham - Acting Financial Secretary
Ministry of Finance
Belize Ms Marilyn Ordonez - Acting Commissioner
Income Tax Department
Dominica Mr Irving Williams - Comptroller
Inland Revenue Department
Jamaica Ms Viralee Latibeaudiere – Director General
Tax Administration Directorate
Montserrat Ms Violette Silcott – Comptroller
Inland Revenue Department
Suriname Mr Roy May – Director
Tax Administration, Ministry of Finance
Trinidad and Tobago Ms Deokie Hosein – Chairman
Board of Inland Revenue
The Bahamas Budget Communcation 2009‐2010 and Report from Mario Karim, IBFD (23 October 2009)
In the 2009/2010 budget presentation, the Government of the Bahamas announced that there would be no
new taxes and only a minor increase in one rate of tax. Instead, the Government is introducing a number of
revenue measures (international trade) to respond to concerns that have been expressed and to further
rationalize rates for similar products.
The Government of the Bahamas passed a Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act 2009, on 15 October
2009. This will allow the Bahamas to exchange tax information under tax treaties based on the OECD Model
Convention and tax information exchange agreements, in order to implement the internationally agreed
standard. Since then, Exchange of Information Agreements have been concluded with the United Kingdom,
New Zealand and San Marino.
Ms Audrey Cox, Senior Tax Inspector
Department of Inland Revenue
is the new COTA Correspondent
New Automated Tax Administration System
After three years of planning a new tax administration system designed to process tax returns electronically
was implemented by the Department of Inland Revenue. The design of the system was assisted by the Inter‐
American Center of Tax Administrations (CIAT) and will process returns from the income year 2008.
In the spirit of continuous learning, Barbados Tax Administrators participated in the following training
New Trends in Internal Auditing (Puerto Rico, 17‐18 September 2009)
Ms. Sonia Jones, Chief Internal Auditor
Tax Treaty Course (Malaysia, 5‐16 October 2009)
‐ Ms Carolyn Roberts, Tax Officer
CARICOM Tax Treaty (Barbados, 12‐15 October 2009)
Mrs. Kathu‐Ann Sealy, Professional Accountant; Mrs. Doriel Francis and
Mrs. Judy Roach, both Senior Inspectors.
British Virgin Islands
Report from Laura Pakarinen, IBFD Research Associate (9 November 2009)
Exchange of Information Agreement between British Virgin Islands and Finland
Details have become available of the exchange of information agreement between the British Virgin Islands
and Finland signed on 18 May 2009. The Agreement only provides for the exchange of information upon
request that is relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic tax laws of the contracting
parties, including information relevant to the determination, assessment, verification, enforcement, recovery
or collection of taxes, and the investigation or prosecution of tax matters. The agreement expressly provides
for the exchange of information ‐
held by banks, other financial institutions and any person, including nominees and trustees, working in
an agency of fiduciary capacity; and
regarding the legal and beneficial ownership of companies, partnerships and other persons including
ownership information on all such persons in an ownership chain. In the case of trusts, it covers
information on settlers, trustees, beneficiaries and protectors and in the case of foundations, it covers
information on founders, members of the foundation council and beneficiaries, and equivalent
information in case of entities that are neither trusts nor foundations.
The effective date of the TIEA is not yet known, but for criminal tax matters it will be effective from the date of
entry into force.
Additional details on this Agreement can be obtained from the IBFD website – www.ibfd.org
Report from COTA Correspondent ‐ Meris Haughton
Tax Administration introduces online option for paying and filing payroll deductions
In a move by the Jamaican Tax Authorities to make it easier for persons to pay taxes, the Tax Administration
has expanded its online services, to include activities relating to payroll deductions. Since 1 November 2009,
employers are able to pay and file declarations for payroll deductions electronically.
In preparing to unveil the
Demonstration for new online option, the Tax
the online payment Administration recently
and filing of payroll
hosted a focus group
McNeil, Collector of session to familiarize
the “Virtual” Tax representatives from the
Office shows Timothy business and accounting
Fullerton rom Tank-
Weld Group of
communities with the
Companies how to file expanded e‐filing /
and pay payroll payment system. The
deductions online, participants were shown a
using the tax portal
demonstration of the
online.gov.jm at a payroll deductions online
focus group session payment option and later
held by the Tax
took part in a “hands on”
October 15, 2009. exercise. The pilot phase
was launched in November.
The Tax Administration’s online service ‐ www.jamaicatax‐online.gov.jm ‐ was initially launched in 2004, with
the option to pay General Consumption Tax (GCT)/Special Consumption Tax (SCT), Property Tax, Traffic Fines
and some trade licences and fees. Following the passing of the Electronic Transactions Act, the online service
was expanded last November to facilitate the electronic filing of GCT/SCT Returns. With this latest phase now
implemented, the tax authorities, in partnership with the Government’s information technology service
providers, FISCAL Services Ltd, are working to further expand the online service by 31 March 2010. This will
accommodate the online filing of Self‐Employed, Individuals and Corporate Income Tax Returns. The filing of
other tax types will be introduced in later phases.
Six-month Voluntary Compliance Programme for “New” Taxpayers ended 31 October
A six‐month Voluntary Compliance Programme targeting persons operating outside of the “tax net” came to an
end on 31 October 2009. The programme was introduced by the Minister of Finance and the Public Service,
the Honourable Audley Shaw, during his budget presentation in April, in an effort to widen the “tax net” and to
reduce the burden on existing taxpayers. Under this amnesty, persons operating outside of the “tax net” were
encouraged to come forward and voluntarily register, file tax returns and pay any outstanding amounts for the
years 2008 and 2009 relating to Income Tax, General Consumption Tax (GCT), Special Consumption Tax (SCT),
PAYE and/or Education Tax, without any questions being asked about previous years.
To qualify, persons would have to voluntarily come forward to report on their earnings before they were
identified by the Tax Administration otherwise the tax authority reserved the right to make an assessment for
the last six (6) years, inclusive of interest and penalty or to take other enforcement action. Persons identified
as eligible for the amnesty included:
Persons in receipt of unreported income which was in excess of the income threshold for 2008 of
J$196,872, but had never filed an income tax return. This included for example persons working in
the following areas of, construction, haulage, transportation, entertainment and sports;
Employed persons paid under the PAYE system who had earned additional income from other
Registered taxpayers operating a business but who had not filed or paid their income tax within the
last five (5) years. However if the tax authority has made contact, through a “failure to file” notice,
assessment or via telephone within the last five (5) years, this category of persons would NOT be
eligible for the relief; and
Business persons with gross income above three million dollars (J$3M) who have not registered for
GCT as a “registered” taxpayer.
Records show that 5,775 new taxpayers took advantage of the amnesty under the Voluntary Compliance
Programme, and registered, filed and paid during the period.
Jamaica Increases Income Tax Threshold and Relief for Pensioners
In keeping with the announcement during the budget presentation in April, the income tax threshold and
pension/age exemptions were increased effective 1 July 2009. The Income Tax threshold is now J$320,736,
and for the remainder of the 2009, individuals will benefit from a tax free income of J$26,728 monthly,
J$12,336 fortnightly or J$6,168 weekly. The Pension and Age Exemptions have also been increased from
$45,000 to $80,000 each. Based on the apportionment from the 1 July, effective date, the income tax
threshold for year of assessment 2009 is therefore J$270,504. In respect of the pension and age exemptions,
the annualized figures are J$62,500 respectively. Effective1 January 2010, the income tax threshold will be
further increased to J$441,168 per annum, a further relief for Jamaican tax‐payers.
St. Kitts and Nevis
Tax Amnesty Concludes
The tax amnesty which offered taxpayers the opportunity to pay off their tax arrears without interest or
penalties and which was implemented by the Government of St Kitts and Nevis from 1 April 2009 was expected
to conclude on 30 September. The initiative was intended for all delinquent taxpayers whether or not they
were already registered, registered taxpayers with outstanding balances either in full or partial or who had not
reported some aspect of their obligation.
The amnesty applied to 18 imposts – including Corporate Income Tax; Traders Tax; Consumption Tax on
services; Hotel Room and Restaurant Tax; Insurance Premium Tax; Gaming Machine Tax; Travel Tax; Property
Tax; and various licences and fees.
Tax Information Exchange Agreements signed with 4 Countries
In September 2009, St Kitts and Nevis signed tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with the
Netherlands Antilles, Aruba, the Kingdom of Denmark and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has been
reported that the signature of other TIEAs were pending an indication of the actual dates of signing from the
St Kitts and Nevis was placed on the ‘grey list’ by the Paris‐based OECD as one of the jurisdictions that “have
committed to the internationally agreed tax standard, but have not yet substantially implemented”. The
signature of 12 Tax treaties is required to move up to the ‘white list’ of jurisdictions in substantial compliance
with the standard.
Report from Mario Karim, IBFD and CARICOM Secretariat
New Tax Measures - VAT to be implemented from 2010
In accordance with the 2009/2010 Budget Address delivered by the Prime Minister and Minister for
Finance on 24 April 2009, the Government intends to implement a Valued Added Tax (VAT) from 1
April 2010. The VAT is not intended to be an additional tax burden to taxpayers; rather, it would
replace a number of existing indirect taxes currently in effect, such as the consumption tax, mobile
cellular telephone tax and the environmental levy. The VAT as proposed (in the soon to be released
draft law for discussion) will consist of a standard rate of 15% and a rate of zero percent for
certain goods and services. Consumers are therefore likely to experience a reduction in the price of
some items. A new office has been established to prepare St. Lucia for the VAT. It is expected that the
VAT will afford a greater level of compliance, higher revenue yields and incur less cost and burden of
administration for both businesses / taxpayers and the revenue authority.
New Initiative - Internet Kiosks
Another new initiative for St Lucia is the offering of some of the Department’s services through the use of
Internet kiosks throughout the country. Taxpayers can now walk up to the kiosks to interface with the Tax
Administration at any time and from any point in Saint Lucia.
A two (2) year tax Amnesty is now in effect for taxpayers (individuals and companies) with arrears due on or
before 31st March 2008.
Trinidad and Tobago
Budget Statement 2010, Ministry of Finance, Trinidad and Tobago (September 2009)
Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority
Modernization of the revenue collection administration is expected to effectively facilitate the country’s rapid
pace of economic growth and development through the establishment of the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue
Authority (TTRA). This will involve the merger of the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Divisions ‐ two
agencies which together account for approximately 95% of Government’s revenue collection.
The Trinidad and Tobago Revenue Authority will streamline and re‐structure tax and customs administration;
provide enhanced customer service and ultimately increase Government’s revenue. This will enhance the
speed in processing taxpayers’ transactions; ensure greater accuracy in data; reduce compliance costs to
taxpayers and the cost of collection on the part of the Government. The system will also result in a reduction of
integrity challenges. The TTRA will have a modern organization structure and apply international best
practices in its human resource and financial policies as well as in the development of staff job descriptions
and compensation packages.
In recognition of the complexity of the reform, the Government established the Trinidad and Tobago Revenue
Authority Management Company to guide the transition process. The draft legislation to give effect to the
establishment of the TTRA is in the final stage of review and it is expected to be laid in Parliament early in the
new fiscal year. In the meanwhile, work is progressing apace on several critical areas.
The transition is expected to be smooth and efforts are being made to ensure that staff are treated equitably
and that benefits are paid promptly after the date of separation. Discussions are also ongoing with the Service
Commissions Department to resolve matters relating to appointments and promotions of existing staff at the
Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Divisions. Staff have the opportunity to engage in change
management and counseling sessions to help manage the transformation. It is likely that the Trinidad and
Tobago Revenue Authority would be fully operational in 2010.
New Tax Measures
The following measures were announced in Trinidad and Tobago 2010 Budget Statement –
Property tax → In an effort to modernize the valuation procedures, the property tax will be levied based on
present market values. The four‐tiered rates are as follows –
3% for residential property
5% for commercial property
1% for agricultural property; and
6% for industrial property.
Corporation tax → Property development companies would be allowed to claim a deduction of 15% of the
capital expenditure incurred in the construction of commercial and industrial buildings which commenced on
or after 1 October 2009 but are completed before 31 December 2014.
Annual allowance → Persons that carry on a trade or business would be entitled to an increase of the annual
allowance from 75% to 90% of the expenditures in machinery and plant for the year of income in which the
expenditure is incurred.
Keep In Step
A Proposed UN Code of Conduct on Cooperation for Combating International Tax Evasion
The fifth session of the United Nations (UN) Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax
Matters was held in Geneva from 19‐23 October 2009. A final text on the proposed UN Code of Conduct on
Cooperation in Combating International Tax Evasion was agreed upon, and the text will be sent to the
Economic and Social Council of the UN for approval. The Proposed Code acknowledges “that tax systems are a
key means of mobilizing domestic public resources and enhancing macroeconomic policies, as well as the need
to step up efforts to enhance the ability of each country to collect tax revenues, efficiently and effectively
combat tax evasion and protect their tax bases from non‐compliance with their tax laws”.
The text is limited to tax evasion, and is meant to be the acceptable minimum level of international tax
cooperation required under the new Article 26 of the UN Model (providing information on request), although
countries should aspire to a higher level of cooperation as their circumstances allow. The Code calls upon
countries to effectively exchange information, and to remove obstacles caused by, for example, legislation,
regulations or practices covering bank secrecy, protection of ownership information, or double criminality
principles. (Based on Report from Prof. Jan de Goede, IBFD Senior Principal, Tax Knowledge Management, 27 October 2009)
Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters
The work of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters has evolved since the
establishment of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries in
1968 pursuant to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolution 1273 (XLIII) of 4 August 1967. In
1980, the Group of Experts finalized the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between
Developed and Developing Countries, which was aimed at promoting the conclusion of treaties between
developed and developing countries, acceptable to both parties and which would fully safeguard their
respective revenue interests. Accordingly, in its resolution 1980/13 of 28 April 1980 (see doc. E/1980/80), the
ECOSOC gave a broad title to the Group, namely, "Ad Hoc Group of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax
Matters" and increased its membership from 20 to 25 drawn from tax administrators of 10 developed and 15
developing countries and economies in transition. Its mandate was contained in ECOSOC Resolution 1273
(XLIII), which requested "the Secretary‐General to set up an ad hoc working group consisting of experts and tax
administrators nominated by the Government, but acting in their personal capacity, both from developed and
developing countries and adequately representing different regions and tax systems, with the task of exploring,
in consultation with interested international agencies, ways and means of facilitating the conclusion of tax
treaties between developed and developing countries." The Group eventually had its mandate broadened to
include tax treaties between developed and developing countries as well as international cooperation in tax
matters and, in 2004, was renamed the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters.
Tax Court Case – Belize
In The Matter of Belize Telemedia vs. the Belmopan Tax Administration
The Facts ► The Government of Belize claimed for payment of business taxes by Belize Telemedia (BTL), a
media company, in the amount of eight point seven million dollars. The Government’s case was argued in court
by Senior Counsel Lois Young, who maintained that Belmopan was completely within its rights to demand the
money and has done so through the proper legal channels. Telemedia’s Attorney ‐ Eamon Courtenay had asked
Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh to uphold a London judge’s injunction on the Government which would force the
latter not to issue any more judgment debtor summonses on B.T.L. until the matter had been settled in
Chief Justice Conteh maintained that while the case raised a number of “novel and troubling issues”, he was
unwilling to grant the injunction because tax laws are not within the powers of another country. The Chief
justice posited that a foreign court could not enjoin a foreign government from the process of collecting taxes
and that the London Judge had overstepped his bounds and furthermore, his injunction was “even more
egregious” because it purported to interfere in a sovereign field of tax without any reference to the arbitration
process in and of which it was said to be given. In its application to the Supreme Court, Belize Telemedia had
argued that it was entitled to set off against business tax, the sum of ten point three five million dollars which it
claimed was owing to it by the Government of Belize under an Accommodation Agreement signed by the
The Ruling ► The Court ruled in favor of the
Belmopan Tax Authorities and awarded fifteen
thousand dollars in costs to the Government. The
Magistrate Court is now free to deal with the
summonses already issued to Telemedia for the
months of February and March while the
Commissioner of Income Tax has issued similar notices
to the company for April and May.
In a press release of 23 June 2009, it was reported
that the Government will vigorously pursue every
available avenue to collect business tax and other taxes owing from Telemedia. Belize Telemedia has already
indicated that it intends to file an appeal against the ruling.
(Source: Belize Tax Administration website)
CULTURE CROSS - POINT
Colloquial phrases from each Member State intended to provide a greater understanding of different ways of expression and thinking
across the Region. In this issue, we feature ►
St. Vincent & The Grenadines
• Fowl that ain’t hear shew go hear bup –
If you don’t hear you will feel.
• Moon ah run till day catch um –
You can get away with a lot of things in secret but there will come a time
when they will get exposed / what is done in secret will be exposed at some
• When your neighbour’s house is on fire, wet yours –
When danger or misfortune affects your neighbour or someone you know
take precaution against similar experiences or events.
• When you digging a hole for your enemy, dig two, one for yourself –
Those who plan for or do bad things to others will fall victim to their own
plots and actions.
Best Wishes for 2010!
We welcome your comments and contributions!