Another bill that was debated was the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (Amendment) Bill 2016. The Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters was developed jointly by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Council of Europe in 1988 and amended by Protocol in 2010. The Convention is the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for all forms of tax co-operation to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. The Convention was amended to respond to the call of the G20 at its 2009 London Summit to align it to the international standard on exchange of information on request and to open it to all countries, in particular to ensure that developing countries could benefit from the new more transparent environment. This is why a bill to amend the act was passed. Senators Eamon Courtenay and Michael Peyrefitte debated the amendment.
Senator Eamon Courtenay
“I arise once again to draw attention to this honorable Senate that we are being asked to debate a bill which I have to ask myself who has read it? Let’s start my friend Mr.Peyrefitte says he had read it, let’s look at the very end of the bill. The last section of the bill says “This act shall come into force on the 1st of January, 2017.” That date has gone, if the law is going to come into force on the 1st of January, this section needs to be amended to say that it shall deem to have come into force, if it doesn’t have that language this section is of no value. We need a deeming provision if it’s going to have retroactive effect.”
Senator Michael Peyrifitte
“There are just two comments I want to make based on what Senator Courtney said about the appeal; a person may appeal which is the section 25 A where it says ” A person may appeal to the income tax appeal board, Sen. Courteney has a difficulty with appealing to the income tax appeal board because there are other competent banking institutions that deal with that but I may suggest if you look at A it says ” A person may appeal to the income tax appeal board against a penalty assessed (A) on the grounds that liability to penalty under section 20 does not arise.” and you’re talking about when you look at section 20 it’s talking about the reporting of information and the reporting of wrong information and the like. I think why it is appropriate for the income tax appeal board to be involved there is because they are the ones who have the most experience in terms of knowing when people don’t report and when they report wrong information so I would disagree that they are not the competent body for lack of a better term to say that they should hear the appeals when you involve stuff like that and there is another one where the section 19 (1) Senator Courtney had indicated that the financial secretary would be open to making deals with people who have violated. I don’t take that view, I think it’s no different from when yourself and I would send demand letters to people who we believe are liable for certain things. You and I both know that when you go to court most of the time only the lawyers benefit so I think what this section allows people in the system to do is to short circuit it and not having to go to court if you are prepared to accept that you have violated the act in some way and maybe many times you have not violated it intentionally and so this could be invoked to say “Look given the circumstances.” then you would be assessed a penalty without the liability and I think that is a good initiative that the competent authority ought to take.
108 jurisdictions currently participate in the Convention, including 15 jurisdictions covered by territorial extension.