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CRS MCAA: CRS Information Exchange relationships – or welcome to the jungle

6 November 2018
Read time: 6 mins
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Have you already lost the overview of more than 3’300 bilateral exchange relationships regarding the automatic exchange of information (AEoI)? With over 100 CRS participating jurisdictions (representing all major international financial centers), that is no wonder. No need for panic, we will guide you through this clutter.

AEOI Status of Commitments

First, it is important to know which jurisdictions could possibly enter into exchange relationships. As of October 2018, more than 100 jurisdictions have already started exchanging information:

Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greenland, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guernsey, Hong Kong (China), Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau (China), Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu,

The jurisdictions Albania, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nigeria and Peru will undertake their first exchange in 2019/2020.

Further, there are 42 developing countries that have not yet set the date for their first exchange of information: Armenia, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Gabon, Georgia, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Ukraine.

Please note that this list is subject to continuous revision.  

CRS Agreements

Now we know which jurisdictions can enter into exchange agreements. Below we will have a look at what kind of CRS agreements they can enter into with respect to the automatic exchange of information (AEoI).

It is essential to have a framework agreement in place to enable the automatic exchange of information.

  • Typically, this framework agreement is the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (“Multilateral Convention”);
  • As the Multilateral Convention can only provide a framework, a more detailed procedure has been established: the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (“CRS MCAA”);
  • Council Directive 2014/107/EU dated 09.12.2014;
  • CRS EU Agreements;
  • Bilateral agreements.

Multilateral Convention

In general, most of the exchange relationships between the above outlined jurisdictions are based on the Multilateral Convention and the CRS MCAA which is based on Article 6 of the Multilateral Convention.

The OECD and the Council of Europe developed the Multilateral Convention in 1988. In 2010, the Protocol was amended to align it to the international standard on exchange of information as well as to open it to all countries. As of July 2018, 125 jurisdictions are participating in the Multilateral Convention.

So much for the history of the Multilateral Convention. What exactly is it about?

Well, first it provides the possibility that all countries that have signed the Multilateral Convention, can exchange tax information with countries where agreements are in force. What is more important is that it offers more advantages than simple bilateral treaties as it also includes for example VAT and Social Security Contributions. Its fundamental meaning is the assistance to all forms of tax co-operation and the combating of tax avoidance as well as tax evasion.

A closer look at this high level summary makes it a little bit clearer what is covered:

  • Exchange of information
    • Simultaneous tax examinations
    • Tax examination abroad
  • Assistance in recovery
    • Measures of conservancy
    • Recovery of tax claims
  • Service of documents
  • Joint audit facilities.

Being a member of the Multilateral Convention does not necessarily mean that the information is exchanged automatically. The automatic exchange of information has to be established by concluding respective agreements such as the CRS MCAA.

CRS MCAA

Based on Article 6 of the Multilateral Convention, several countries have signed the CRS MCAA, where they declare to comply with the Multilateral Convention. The CRS MCAA builds the link on which the automatic exchange of information can take place. The document (which you can read here) provides a wide range of definitions and modalities of the exchange to make sure the appropriate flow of information. It also leads to cost and resources savings, as bilateral negotiations with every single jurisdiction in scope would be time consuming. However, as the CRS MCAA is more a “framework agreement”, domestic legislation has to be in place and further the requirements on confidentiality and data protection have to be met.

Signing the CRS MCAA does not necessarily mean that every jurisdiction will exchange information with all other signatories. Further, jurisdictions have to take the decision whether they will exchange information on a reciprocal or a non-reciprocal basis. Each jurisdiction has control over the relationships it will enter into. A bilateral relationship will only be in place if both jurisdictions have the convention in effect, filed relevant notifications and have listed each other.

For some jurisdictions, it is not desired to have a reciprocal agreement, for example, as they do not impose income tax on its residents. Jurisdictions like the Bahamas or UAE has chosen to sign non-reciprocal CRS MCAA.

EU Directive

Some CRS exchanges will also take place based on the relevant EU Directive 2014/107/EU on administrative cooperation (“DAC2”). The DAC2 is an amendment of the Directive 2011/16/EU (“DAC”) and expands the scope of automatic exchange of tax information. This EU Directive is for the exchange between EU member states (for example between Bulgaria and Belgium).

CRS EU Agreements

The EU has entered into agreements with Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland regarding the automatic exchange of information through an agreement between the European Community and the respective countries providing for measures equivalent to those laid down in Council Directive 2003/48/EC on taxation of savings income in the form of interest payments – or more commonly referred to as the CRS EU Agreement.

Bilateral CAA

Alternatively, jurisdictions may rely on a bilateral agreement. These kind of agreements are exclusive between two jurisdictions in the same manner as bilateral double tax treaties (see also the UK CDOT Agreement for example between the United Kingdom and Jersey).

KENDRIS CRS & FATCA Mobile Compliance App

In order to make your life easier in this exchange relationship world, we have developed a CRS & FATCA Mobile Compliance app which is available in Apple Store and Google Play.

What is the benefit for you of having the CRS FATCA app?

  • You have all participating jurisdictions in one app
  • Use the search function to quickly find the jurisdiction you want to check
  • See the respective agreements the jurisdiction has entered into
  • Be informed about relevant deadlines
  • Access the text of the relevant agreement
  • Monthly updates including relevant information

If you have any questions, then check out our CRS & FATCA reporting services and our CRS reporting guide, or reach out to our CRS & FATCA experts, we're always happy to help with any questions you may have.