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Fully fledged body – Gov’t ramping up compliance

Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith keenly listening to Speaker of the House of Assembly Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe outside the legislature in Road Town

Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith in communication with Speaker of the House of Assembly Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe outside the legislature in Road Town

The government has outlined how it will fund a fully fledged entity, which will be tasked with comprehensively ensuring the British Virgin Islands (BVI) – among other things – complies with requests by international partners for tax-related information.

Legislative action to significantly empower the International Tax Authority (ITA) was brought to the House of Assembly recently – roughly a year after the BVI announced it was removed from a French blacklist, to which it was added for non-compliance with requests for information.

The ITA, over the years, has been a mere unit under the Ministry of Finance.

However, under the proposed International Tax Authority Act 2017, the government will have the entity fully-staffed.

The ITA will also have a Steering Committee, which will oversee the management of the Authority by a Board to be established.

The Board, which is to be chaired by the government’s financial secretary, also comprises the Director of the proposed ITA, the attorney general; the managing director of the Financial Services Commission; and the director of the Financial Investigation Agency.

The Director will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the ITA, and supervision of the staff.

All members of staff and other persons directly linked to the improved establishment will be required to subscribe to an Oath of Confidentiality.

Further, the Director of the ITA will be required to prepare and submit annual reports to the Board, and the Board chairman will forward a copy of every annual report to the Cabinet, which will have the reports tabled in the House of Assembly.

The ITA, which will be funded by Government, will also be given the power to borrow monies by way of loan, advance or overdraft. It will also be able to obtain goods and services on credit.

According to the proposed law that will govern the ITA, the approval of the House of Assembly should be sought if the total value of monies, goods or services to be obtained exceeds $1 million.

The ITA will also have power to collect a number of fees and penalties.

“The Authority will be given the powers to collect fees in relation to filings made under FATCA and the CRS, and will also be able to impose administrative penalties. These fees and penalties will also form part of the funds and resources of the Authority,” Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith said while outlining the Objects and Reasons for the proposed International Tax Authority Act 2017.

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