Paolo Soro

CBI and RBI schemes to avoid individual’s jurisdiction

OECD clamps down on CRS avoidance through residence and citizenship by investment schemes

Residence and citizenship by investment (CBI/RBI) schemes, often referred to as golden passports or visas, can create the potential for misuse as tools to hide assets held abroad from reporting under the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

In particular, Identity Cards, residence permits and other documentation obtained through CBI/RBI schemes can potentially be abused to misrepresent an individual’s jurisdiction(s) of tax residence and to endanger the proper operation of the CRS due diligence procedures.

Therefore, and as part of its work to preserve the integrity of the CRS, today, the OECD has published the results of its analysis of over 100 CBI/RBI schemes offered by CRS-committed jurisdictions, identifying those schemes that potentially pose a high-risk to the integrity of CRS.

Potentially high-risk CBI/RBI schemes are those that give access to a low personal tax rate on income from foreign financial assets and do not require an individual to spend a significant amount of time in the jurisdiction offering the scheme.

Such schemes are currently operated by Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Colombia, Cyprus, Dominica, Grenada, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montserrat, Panama, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

Together with the results of the analysis, the OECD is also publishing practical guidance (see Frequently Asked Questions section) that will enable financial institutions to identify and prevent cases of CRS avoidance through the use of such schemes.

In particular, where there are doubts regarding the tax residence(s) of a CBI/RBI user, the OECD has recommended further questions that a financial institution may raise with the account holder.

Moreover, a number of jurisdictions have committed to spontaneously exchanging information regarding users of CBI/RBI schemes with all original jurisdiction(s) of tax residence, which reduces the attractiveness of CBI/RBI schemes as a vehicle for CRS avoidance.

Going forward, the OECD will work with CRS-committed jurisdictions, as well as financial institutions, to ensure that the guidance and other OECD measures remain effective in ensuring that foreign income is reported to the actual jurisdiction of residence.

Further to the press coverage following publication of the guidance for financial institutions on residence by investment (RBI) and citizenship by investment (CBI) schemes, the OECD would like to reiterate that the sole objective of the high-risk RBI/CBI schemes included in this guidance is to provide Financial Institutions with the right tools to identify accountholders that may misuse RBI/CBI schemes to circumvent the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and carry out enhanced CRS due diligence procedures, where appropriate.

This guidance was issued as part of the OECD's ongoing efforts to address any risks to the integrity of the CRS, including those arising from the possible misuse of RBI/CBI schemes. 

Since the release of the guidance, Monaco has provided additional information with respect to its residence and migration requirements confirming that information on relevant applicants is exchanged with all existing jurisdictions of residence.

On this basis, the residence and immigration requirements do not give rise to particular risks to the integrity of the CRS and the guidance will be updated accordingly.

The OECD guidance for financial institutions conducts enhanced due diligence procedures under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) in order to ensure that certain residence and citizenship by investment (RBI/CBI) schemes do not get misused by account holders for the purpose of circumventing the CRS.

The schemes included in the guidance are those that pose a high risk for being misused because of a low or zero rate of taxation of foreign financial income and the limited physical presence requirements attached to the RBI/CBI scheme.

The OECD is pleased to announce that jurisdictions are taking further action to prevent the misuse of RBI/CBI schemes by account holders by putting in place an exchange of information mechanism that will ensure that the information on applicants of RBI/CBI schemes will be made available to their jurisdiction(s) of tax residence.

As a consequence of this action and further assurances and clarifications provided, certain RBI/CBI schemes have been removed from the guidance.

The OECD is engaging with several more jurisdictions and will reflect any relevant developments in its guidance on an ongoing basis.

Find out more about our work on automatic exchange of information:

www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/

Source: OECD Tax Automatic Exchange News

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