March 13, 2018
The Bahamas is disappointed to have learned that the EU Code of Conduct Group (COCG) will be making a recommendation to the Council of the European Union next week to include The Bahamas on the EU List of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. Throughout this process, The Bahamas has consistently been engaged with the OECD and the COCG on the EU listing criteria – including as late as last week. Therefore, this latest move is particularly surprising to us.
In December 2017, The Bahamas signed onto the Inclusive Framework for the implementation of the Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative with the OECD. This solidified our international commitment to comply with measures to avoid tax planning strategies used by multinational companies to exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to jurisdictions where there is low, or no actual economic activity.
As of March 2018, a total of 113 countries and territories have joined the BEPS inclusive framework. The Bahamas has taken immediate steps to reiterate its commitment to the European Commission with respect to the non-facilitation of offshore structures and arrangements in the jurisdiction aimed at attracting profits without real economic substance for the purpose of profit shifting.
Legislation is currently being drafted to give effect to the implementation of the BEPS minimum standards and to address gaps in our current regulatory regime identified by the COCG. We anticipate that this legislation will be laid in the House of Assembly by April 2018.
Discussions were held today with the Secretary General of the COCG responding to their specific concerns, followed by formal letter. We believe the discussions were positive and remain hopeful that our efforts to address their concerns will result in the favourable consideration of The Bahamas as a cooperative tax jurisdiction. We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to international regulatory standards and initiatives thereby ensuring that the Bahamas remains a clean, compliant and cooperative jurisdiction.
By K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance