Is taxpayer data recognised as highly confidential and adequately safeguarded against disclosure to third parties, including other parts of the Government? Is it a signatory (or does it propose to become a signatory) to the Common Reporting Standard? And/or does it maintain (or intend to maintain) a public register of beneficial ownership?

Tax (4th edition)

Angola Small Flag Angola

Yes. Tax authorities’ officers must treat as confidential (including with respect to other parts of the Government) the information obtained on the tax situation of taxpayers and the elements of personal nature obtained during a tax procedure, including those covered by professional secrecy or any other legally protected secrecy duty.

Is it a signatory (or does it propose to become a signatory) to the Common Reporting Standard? And/or does it maintain (or intend to maintain) a public Register of beneficial ownership?

No.

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

As a general rule, taxpayers’ data are protected by tax confidentiality and kept confidential between tax authorities. However, there are certain special circumstances such as agreements between tax authorities for the exchange of information (such as, for example, between federal and state tax authorities) and, in certain cases, automatic cross-checking of information (such as between financial institutions and the federal tax authority).

Brazil has adhered to the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), but there are no public records of the information concerning the ultimate beneficial owner, nor actual initiatives to implement such measure.

Canada Small Flag Canada

Audit powers can only used only for the ultimate purpose of issuing a reassessment as opposed to a criminal investigation. Where the predominant purpose of a particular inquiry is the determination of penal liability (and not tax), the Canada Revenue Agency must not use its audit powers. Rather, evidence must be gathered in accordance with the rules applicable in criminal matters (right to remain silent, presumption of innocence, proof beyond reasonable doubt).

Otherwise, the general rule is that the Canada Revenue Agency has access to any document and information relevant to the Income Tax Act, if the document is not protected by solicitor–client privilege, i.e., where legal advice is sought from a professional legal adviser. The communications relating to that purpose, made in confidence by the client, are permanently protected from disclosure. Communications made to facilitate the commission of a crime or fraud will not be confidential.

Communications between a taxpayer and a chartered professional account, unlike a lawyer, are not protected by solicitor–client privilege. The Canada Revenue Agency’s position is that it can access an accountant’s file. However, they cannot do so in a routine, uncontrolled manner. For example, tax accrual working papers prepared for the purpose of financial statements would normally not be subject to disclosure.

Colombia Small Flag Colombia

As a general rule, the taxpayer data is confidential, and may only be disclosed by the tax authorities to other governmental or judicial authorities upon formal request, and in the course of proceedings against the relevant taxpayer.

Colombia is a signatory to the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement and committed to undertake first exchanges of information on September 2017.

Colombia has no public register of beneficial ownership.

Cyprus Small Flag Cyprus

While complying fully with all information exchange standards, Cyprus takes taxpayer confidentiality very seriously. The Assessment and Collection of Taxes Law contains strong safeguards against inappropriate disclosure of taxpayer information and requires requests for disclosure to conform with strict requirements, thus ruling out so-called fishing expeditions.

As an EU member Cyprus is bound by Directive 2014/107/EU on mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation. It is also a signatory to the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information. As per Article 29 of the OECD Model Tax Treaty information can be exchanged in three different ways: via request, automatically and/or spontaneously . Cyprus implemented the Common Reporting Standard from the beginning of 2016 and as of 2017 has started exchanging information and exchanges information both automatically, thus systematically and periodically transmitting tax information and spontaneously, thus transmitting information presumed to be of interest.

Directive 2018/822/EU amending Directive 2011/16/EU aims at increasing transparency to tackle aggressive tax planning by strengthening the rules on mandatory automatic exchange of information. The Cyprus Tax Department has published guidance regarding automatic exchange of financial account information and other information relating to the Common Reporting Standard. The “Guidance Notes on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information” published on the department’s website, provide detailed, comprehensive guidance in English on the application of international agreements and Cyprus legislation on the automatic exchange of financial account information between Cyprus and other tax jurisdictions.

At the moment registers of beneficial ownership are maintained by the regulatory authorities such as the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates corporate and fiduciary service providers, and the Cyprus Bar Association and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus, which regulate their members’ activities in this area. The registers are open to inspection by the relevant authorities for appropriate purposes, but for the time being they are not open to inspection by others.

In combating money laundering, the financing of terrorist activity and tax evasion the 4th AML Directive has obliged all EU member states to introduce the public register by 20th January 2020. In the meantime, Cyprus authorities have been trying to increase transparency by introducing and proposing reforms of the Cyprus legal framework in implementing the 5th AML Directive, which builds on the steps introduced by the 4th AML Directive.

According to the 4th AML Directive, information relating to beneficial ownership was only to be made available to persons who “demonstrate a legitimate interest with respect to money laundering, terrorist financing and the associated predicate offences, such as corruption, tax crimes and fraud.” However, the 5th AML Directive has amended this be removing any requirement for establishing legitimate interest in granting access to the public.

Germany Small Flag Germany

The data relating to tax matters is safeguarded against disclosure to third parties by the tax secrecy rule. The tax secrecy rule basically stipulates that the tax authorities are not allowed to disclose any data they gained knowledge of during the tax proceedings to any third party. However, there are several exceptions to the tax secrecy rule, like disclosure of facts in connection with criminal proceedings unrelated to tax.

Germany is signatory of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement and therefore has implemented the common reporting standard into national law. The first automatic exchanges of tax relevant information with other countries, such as information about banking accounts or realized capital gains, have started as of September 2017.

Germany has also implemented information exchange clauses in the vast majority of its double taxation agreements under which certain information might be disclosed to other countries’ tax authorities.

As of 1 October 2017, Germany maintains a public register of beneficial ownership. Amongst others, any individual who owns 25 % of the share capital or voting rights of an entity or controls the entity is treated as the beneficial owner, which has to be identified by the company or the financial intermediary as the case may be and has to be registered in the so-called transparency register. However, if the beneficial owner is already registered in the commercial register as a shareholder of the respective entity, no additional registration in the transparency register is required. The information contained in the transparency register will be made available to governmental bodies or to any person who can provide evidence of a legitimate interest so far. According to the explanatory memorandum to the act implementing the transparency register, in particular anti-corruption or tax-related NGOs and specialized journalists shall have such a legitimate interest to inspect the transparency register. The EU, however, adopted a directive ensuring access for “any member of the general public” to at least the name, the month and year of birth and the country of residence and nationality of the beneficial owner as well as the nature and ex-tent of the beneficial interest held. This directive has to be implemented in national law until 10 January 2020. A corresponding draft law was published recently.

Gibraltar Small Flag Gibraltar

Yes, the Income Tax Office will need to ensure compliance with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) which has been transposed into Gibraltar law as a result of the European Directive.

The Tax Office will however, be required to disclose data on any particular taxpayer if he is the subject of an investigation by any other tax authority and the information requested has been done so validly under the provisions of a Tax Exchange of Information Treaty or applicable directive.

Is it a signatory (or does it propose to become a signatory) to the Common Reporting Standard? And/or does it maintain (or intend to maintain) a public Register of beneficial ownership?

Yes, Gibraltar has adopted the Common Reporting Standard and also maintains a Register of beneficial ownership. The Register is maintained by the Finance Centre and is not public. However persons who demonstrate legitimate interest under the relevant regulations may make a request to the Finance Centre for such information to be disclosed.

Greece Small Flag Greece

The Greek Code of Tax Procedures specifically provides that taxpayer data is highly confidential. In specific, employees of the Ministry of Finance and the Tax Administration are obliged to keep confidential all taxpayer data that comes to their knowledge while exercising their duties. Nevertheless, such data can in certain exceptional cases be disclosed to third parties such as other employees of the Tax Administration, lawyers of the State, prosecution authorities, judges or foreign tax authorities.

Greece is a signatory to the OECD Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement for the automatic exchange of information in accordance with the CRS and has also transposed into Greek law Council Directive 2014/107/EU of 9 December 2014 amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation. Greece has also enacted legislation implementing the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive and is about to implement in the fourth quarter of 2019 a public Register of beneficial ownership.

India Small Flag India

The data of a taxpayer is not available to general public and is kept as confidential. However, the tax authorities can share the data, to the extent necessary, with other Government agencies for effective administration of concerned laws. Further, while personal data is exempt from disclosure under the Right to Information Act, 2005 as well, generic data such as number of appeals pending before appellate authorities could be disclosed to the applicant. Also, where an order is passed by ITAT, HC or SC or AAR, the same is generally published in public domain unless an exception is made at the request of the taxpayer.

India has signed a multilateral agreement on 3 June 2015, to automatically exchange information based on Article 6 of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS)

Ireland Small Flag Ireland

Section 851A Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (“TCA”) provides statutory protection in respect of the confidentiality of taxpayer information. The protection is not absolute and taxpayer information may be disclosed by Irish Revenue in certain limited circumstances prescribed within that section. Under separate legislation confidential taxpayer information may also be disclosed to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) where an offence has been committed or to the Official Assignee or trustee in bankruptcy.

Ireland is a signatory to the CRS. The European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019 (the “2019 Regulations”) came into force this year and required that a Central Register of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Industrial & Provident Societies be established (the “Central Register”).

The Central Register went live on 22 June 2019 and companies can file relevant details with the Central Register from that date. There will be a five-month grace period given to companies who are already in existence to file necessary data without being in breach of their statutory duty to file. However, qualifying companies that are newly incorporated must file within five months from the date of incorporation.

Israel Small Flag Israel

The ITA is under a statutory duty to keep taxpayers’ information confidential, a breach of which may trigger criminal offences. Exceptions apply with respect to disclosure of such information to the NII or in certain bankruptcy procedures.

Similar to other countries, Israel has also committed to implementing automatic exchange of information under the OECD Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) and the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”). Under both the CRS and FATCA, the ITA obtains financial information from Israeli financial institutions pertaining to financial accounts of non-Israeli residents and exchanges such information with partner jurisdictions on an automatic and annual basis. Domestic legislation and regulations have been adopted to facilitate compliance with said exchange of information obligations.

Italy Small Flag Italy

Taxpayer data are recognized as highly confidential and, in principle, cannot be shared by the tax authorities with others (including other public bodies) except in specific cases provided for by the law. In cases not provided for by the law, the data can be shared with other public bodies if they are necessary for the functioning of the requesting body.

Italy is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard. Being one of the early adopters, the provisions of the CRS entered into force on January 1, 2017.

The legislative Decree No. 90 of 2017 which implemented the provisions of the Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing provides for the introduction of a public register of beneficial ownership which shall include data relevant to beneficial owners of companies and other entities and arrangements (including trusts).

Austria Small Flag Austria

The data relating to tax matters are subject to a statutory non-disclosure requirement which basically stipulates that the tax authorities are not allowed to disclose any data they gained knowledge of during the tax proceedings to any third party including other public authorities. However, there are exceptions to the non-disclosure rule, like the disclosure of facts in connection with criminal tax proceedings or other cases stipulated by the law or in case that imperative public interest requires it.

Austria is a signatory of the Common Reporting Standard providing for the automatic exchange of information between member countries on financial accounts of non-residents. Austrian corporations have to disclose their beneficial ownership information to a central register kept by the Austrian Ministry of Finance.

Japan Small Flag Japan

Yes, under the Japanese system, taxpayer data is recognized as being highly confidential and is adequately safeguarded against disclosure to third parties. Each tax investigator who belongs to the National Tax Agency owes a non-disclosure obligation and disclosure of taxpayer data may constitute a criminal offence under Japanese law. Moreover, taxpayer data is maintained within the National Tax Agency for the purpose of tax investigation and other parts of the Government are basically prevented from making contact with it. Despite the strict confidentiality policy for taxpayer data, taxation imposed on major companies is sometimes leaked and then published by the press.

Japan is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) and has already promulgated and enforced domestic legislation to implement the CRS. The National Tax Agency has started analyzing the data obtained from other signatory countries due to the CRS and recently arrested an individual for tax evasion based on the analysis of the data obtained under the CRS.

There is no public register of beneficial ownership in Japan.

Luxembourg Small Flag Luxembourg

The Luxembourg tax administration is subject to professional secrecy requirements towards third parties which apply to information relating to foreign and national taxpayers.

However, the Luxembourg tax administration may disclose information to other tax administrations and judicial authorities. In that respect, Luxembourg has approved in 2014 the Paris Convention regarding the mutual administrative assistance in tax matters.

Luxembourg has also signed an intergovernmental agreement regarding the automatic exchange of information between the Luxembourg and US tax administrations within the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”, Model 1).

Luxembourg has transposed the Council Directive (EU) 2016/881 concerning automatic and mandatory exchange of tax information concerning the CbCR, with effect as of the fiscal year 2016.

Luxembourg is signatory to the Common Reporting Standards and has implemented the automatic exchange of information in tax matters as of 1 January 2016.

Luxembourg also transposed the Council Directive (EU) 2016/2258 regarding the automatic exchange of information relating to reportable cross-border arrangements (“DAC 5”), enabling the disclosure of beneficial ownership information to foreign European tax authorities. The DAC 6 Council Directive (EU) 2018/822 relating to mandatory disclosure rules for intermediaries and the automatic exchange of information on tax planning cross-border arrangements will be soon transposed by the Luxembourg legislator as a draft bill has been introduced on 8 August 2019 to the Parliament.

Finally, as of 1 March 2019, Luxembourg has introduced its register of beneficial owners (the “RBO”) with a six-month transitional period for Luxembourg entities to identify and register their ultimate beneficial owners (“UBO”) in that said register. The information will be kept for a period of 5 years after the liquidation or winding up of the relevant entity. As from 1 September 2019 (at the end of the transitional period), information provided to the RBO will be accessible to the public, except for highly private information such as the address and the national identification number of the relevant UBOs. Under limited and exceptional cases (i.e., risk of threat, fraud, kidnapping, blackmail, violence or intimidation) the public access can be limited upon request by the UBO. Such restricted access is granted for a maximum period of 3 years. Based on information recently communicated by the RBO, only a hand few of restricted access requests have been granted until now.

Despite the mandatory disclosure rules listed above, the Luxembourg courts and the CJEU keep a watchful eye on fishing expeditions and protection of taxpayers fundamental rights (see CJEU “Berlioz” decision dated 16 May 2017).

Malaysia Small Flag Malaysia

6. Under Section 138 of the ITA, every classified person must regard and deal with classified material as confidential; and, if he is an official, make and subscribe a declaration that he will do so.

A “classified person” is defined to include officials (i.e.: a person having an official duty under or employed in carrying out the provisions of the ITA); any person advising or acting for a person who is or may be chargeable to tax, and any employee of a person so acting or advising if he is an employee who in his capacity as such has access to classified material; or any employee of the IRB.

However, there are some qualifications to the rule, as no classified material shall be produced or used in court or otherwise except for the purposes of the ITA or another tax law; in order to institute or assist in the course of a prosecution for any offence committed in relation to tax or in relation to any tax or duty imposed by another tax law; or with the written authority of the Minister or of the person or partnership to whose affairs it relates.

Further, the law does not prevent the production or disclosure of classified material to the Auditor-General or the use of classified material by the Auditor-General where necessary or expedient for the proper exercise of the functions of his office, or the DGIR from publicising, from time to time in any manner as he may deem fit, particulars in respect of a person who has been found guilty or, convicted of any offence or dealt with pursuant to certain sections under the ITA unless voluntary disclosure has been made before any investigation or inquiry has been commenced.

Any classified person who communicates to another person or allows another person to have access to classified material in contravention of the Act ITA shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding four thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.

Under the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, Malaysia has joined over 100 other countries in agreeing to the automatic exchange of information relating to financial accounts (AEOI) and has committed to exchange the CRS information from 2018.

Pursuant to the Common Reporting Standards (“CRS”), information to be collected and reported by financial institutions of participating jurisdictions includes the financial account information, the different types of accounts and taxpayers covered, as well as common due diligence procedures to be followed by financial institutions. Through the operation of this legislation, the Malaysian tax authorities have set down timelines for the implementation of the CRS, with special provisions for pre-existing individual high value accounts.

Presently, Malaysia does not maintain a public register of beneficial ownership, nor is there any indication of any intention to maintain such a register. Nonetheless, under various provisions and guidelines, regulatory authorities mandate relatively high level of disclosure of control and ownership by taxpayers.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

In terms of the Federal Tax Code, information provided by taxpayers to the competent authorities is considered as confidential and it is duly protected from disclosure to third parties. In this sense, such information could only be provided to other governmental authorities in cases sanctioned by law and assuming that due process has been abided by.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that certain information could be required from tax authorities on an international scale, in pursuance of broad exchange of information agreements or other relevant instruments such as FATCA or CRS.

As a member of the G20, Mexico has subscribed to the Common Reporting Standards (CRS), and even has adapted the local set of laws to meet the standards set forth by the OECD.

Additionally, Mexico has executed the Model Agreement for Competent Authorities on the CRS, along with other 105 jurisdictions. As consequence thereof, parties engaged as or with Mexican taxpayers could be required to submit country-by-country reports describing the operations in which they are involved.

What is more, Mexico has made efforts to obtain the names, accounts and balances of Mexican taxpayers that have opened accounts outside the country.

The Netherlands Small Flag The Netherlands

Pursuant to Dutch administrative law, taxpayer information is confidential. It may only be disclosed to third parties under certain conditions.

Taxpayer information (e.g. exchange tax ruling forms, other EU/international exchange of information mechanisms) may be exchanged with foreign tax authorities in specific situations.

Under the mandatory disclosure rules, certain information on taxpayers / transactions will be exchanged between EU Member States (going back to mid-2018).

The Netherlands is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard.

The Netherlands will, after the implementation of the EU Directive obliging the Netherlands to maintain a public register containing ultimate beneficial owner information. The information is expected to be published in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.

Peru Small Flag Peru

Taxpayer data is protected by the guarantee of tax secrecy, set forth in article 2 of the Constitution and in section 85 of the Tax Code. Pursuant to that guarantee, tax data cannot be disclosed but only in the following cases: (i) requests issued by either the Judiciary, the Prosecution Office or a Congress Committee during a criminal investigation, (ii) if the information is required as per an exchange of information agreement or any other similar convention, (iii) if the information corresponds to finished tax cases, when required for academic purposes, (iv) in case of statistical information, (v) when the information corresponds to taxpayers designated as comparable for transfer pricing purposes, (vi) the amount of debts subject to enforced collection, (vii) information contained in Customs declarations.

On the other hand, Peru is a signatory of the Common Reporting Standard. While this standard came into force in Peru at the end of 2018, it is expected that the first exchange of information, concerning the information of tax year 2018, occurs in 2020.

With respect to beneficial ownership, Peru has enacted legislation intended for its Tax Authority to collect information as to the beneficial owners of any legal entity or corporate vehicle, with the aim at tackling tax evasion and money laundering. The information gathered by the Tax Authority will not be public and could only be shared by said entity with the Superintendence of Banking, Insurance and Private Pension Fund Managers and the Superintendence of the Securities Market. Public Notaries are also required to verify whether any legal entity or corporate vehicle requesting their services have submitted before the Tax Authority the information of their beneficial owners, or to collect it directly for further transmission to the Tax Authority.

Philippines Small Flag Philippines

Yes, taxpayer data is considered confidential and cannot be divulged to third parties unless judicially ordered in connection with a pending court case. There is also a specific provision in the Tax Code which makes it unlawful for any officer or employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to divulge trade secrets and other information acquired in the performance of their official duties. However, the Tax Code mandates the Bureau of Internal Revenue and other government agencies to share information which are necessary to improve tax collections. This data sharing can cover matters relating to production and sales of manufacturing companies, gross receipts of land, sea and air transport firms, revenue of telecommunications firms, amount of interest and other income of banks, contracts entered into with private contractors, and names and addresses of all active registered corporations and partnerships with their financial statements. In addition, taxpayer’s information on bank deposit accounts can also be shared under existing international conventions on tax matters subject to the terms provided therein. In any case, all request for information and documents should be coursed through the Commissioner of Internal Revenue who alone approves all these requests as a matter of procedure.

The Philippines is not a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard and does not maintain a public Register of beneficial ownership at the moment.

Notably, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a memorandum circular requiring all entities registered with it to file, together with the General Information Sheet, a Statement of Beneficial Ownership, which need to be updated every time there changes to the reporting entity’s beneficial ownership. The circular’s implementation has been put on hold until the Securities and Exchange Commission issues clarificatory rules on the matter.

Poland Small Flag Poland

The taxpayer data relating to tax matters are subject to the fiscal secrecy which prevents the tax authorities from disclosing taxpayer information and data to third parties. However, there are many exceptions to the tax secrecy rule which allow the tax authorities to disclose such information and data to other public authorities and judiciary bodies.

Poland is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard. Being one of the early adopters, the provisions of the CRS entered into force on January 1, 2017. The first automatic exchanges of tax relevant information with other countries, such as information about banking accounts or realized capital gains, have started as of September 2017.

At this stage, we are not aware of an intention of the Polish tax authorities to maintain a public register of beneficial ownership.

Portugal Small Flag Portugal

As a general rule, officials and agents of the Tax Administration are required to keep confidential the data collected on the taxpayers situation and the personal information obtained in the tax procedure, including those arising from professional secrecy or any other duty of secrecy legally regulated.

Exceptions are provided for the following situations:

(i) Authorization of the taxpayer for the disclosure of his tax situation;

(ii) Legal cooperation of the tax administration with other public entities;

(iii) Mutual assistance and cooperation of the tax administration with the tax administrations of other countries resulting from international conventions to which the Portuguese State is bound, whenever reciprocity is contemplated; and

(iv) Collaboration with justice under the Code of Civil Procedure and Code of Criminal Procedure; and

(v) Confirmation of the tax identification number and fiscal domicile to the entities legally competent to carry out the commercial, land or car registration.

It should be noted that under the Portuguese law, the publication of lists of taxpayers with outstanding tax debts does not constitute a breach of these confidentiality rules.

Yes, Portugal is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) and has also approved the Legal Regime of the Central Registry of Beneficial Ownership, transposing Chapter III of Directive 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015.

This Registry shall be managed by the Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN), a public institution that executes and monitors policies relating to registration, to ensure the provision of services to citizens and companies in the field of civil identification and civil registration, nationality, land, commercial, movable and legal persons.

South Africa Small Flag South Africa

Yes, the Tax Administration Act, 2011 contains various provisions that protect the confidentiality of information pertaining to tax matters, whether the information originates from SARS or the taxpayer.

The Tax Administration Act, 2011 includes a general prohibition on the disclosure of any information relating to a tax matter, especially if that disclosure would seriously impair a civil or criminal tax investigation.

However, the Tax Administration Act, 2011 does provide that a senior official SARS may disclose certain taxpayer information in specific, pre-determined circumstances, including to:

  • the Statistician-General as may be required for publishing statistics;
  • a commission of inquiry established by the President of the Republic of South Africa under a law of the Republic, limited to the information to which the Commission is authorised by law to have access;
  • to an employer of an employee, limited to the income tax reference number, identity number, physical or postal address of that employee and such other non-financial information in relation to that employee, as that employer may require in order to comply with its obligations in terms of a tax Act;
  • a recognised controlling body of a registered practitioner, limited to such information in relation to the tax practitioner as may be required to verify that certain requirements are being given effect to;
  • the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank or other person to whom the Minister of Finance delegates powers, functions and duties under the Exchange Control Regulations, limited to the information as may be required to exercise a power or perform a function or duty under the South African Reserve Bank Act;
  • the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, limited to the information may be required for the purpose of carrying out the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s duties and functions under the Financial Sector Regulation Act;
  • the Financial Intelligence Centre, limited to the information as may be required for the purpose of carrying out the Centre’s duties and functions under the Financial Intelligence Centre Act;
  • the National Credit Regulator, limited to the information as may be required for the purpose of carrying out the Regulator’s duties and functions under the National Credit Act;
  • the Auditor-General insofar as it relates to the performance of the Auditor-General's duties; and
  • an organ of state or institution listed in a regulation by the Minister of Finance, limited to information to which the organ of state or institution is otherwise lawfully entitled to and for the purposes only of verifying the correctness of the particulars of a taxpayer.

Yes, SARS is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard. The Common Reporting Standard Regulations have been issued under the Tax Administration Act, 2011.

Although the position is currently unclear, it is likely that a public register of beneficial ownership will be kept in the near future.

Spain Small Flag Spain

The Spanish Tax Authorities is required to keep confidential all information they have. Other administrations (criminal enquiries, Social Security) can be provided with information about a taxpayer. Also the list of the top taxpayers with pending debts is regularly published.
Spain has signed the multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and has activated exchange relationships for the Common Reporting Standard information with many jurisdictions.

The law 10-2010 of April 28 on the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, provides that Spanish companies are required to disclose the identity of their beneficial owners – i.e. individuals owning, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the company’s equity or voting rights or, failing that, the person exercising control over the management or management bodies within the companies and undertakings for collective investment.

This means that all legal entities currently registered in Spain needed to identify their beneficial owners and prepare to file the declaration of beneficial owners.

Entities falling within the scope of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing (such as credit institution, insurance companies, mutual insurance, investment service providers, etc…), or any person justifying a legitimate interest, upon an order made by the judge engaged in the supervision of the companies register.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

Swiss tax legislation provides for strict confidentiality and non-disclosure rules regarding taxpayer information. However, in some cases other Swiss authorities can receive taxpayer information.

Switzerland has entered into numerous tax treaties and tax information exchange agreements under which it will exchange tax information on a government-to-government basis in certain situations.

Switzerland is a signatory to the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement and the Common Reporting Standard (‘CRS MCAA’), therefore committing to implement the OECD’s standard for automatic exchange of information. The appropriate legal basis have been introduced into Swiss law, and the first automatic exchanges of information took place in autumn 2018.

Switzerland has responded to calls to increase company transparency with the Federal Act for Implementing the Revised FATF Recommendations of 2012. Whilst this Act has brought a number of changes and obligations, it also included some very important updates to the requirements around beneficial ownership. Any individual who owns or controls over 25% of an entity’s share capital or voting rights (whether held by bearer shares or registered shares) is required to be identified to the company or to an appointed financial intermediary. The information will be made available to the Swiss authorities, which increases the transparency of Swiss companies.

United States Small Flag United States

Code Section 6103 provides for confidentiality of tax return information obtained by the IRS during the course of an audit. Section 6103 generally prevents the IRS from disseminating tax return information to any third parties outside of the IRS, or subject to limited exceptions, to other parts of the government not involved in the audit. IRS employees that violate the restrictions on disclosure of taxpayer information may be subject to civil or even criminal penalties.

The US has not adopted the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS). The Code requires different beneficial ownership information to be collected by financial intermediaries and reported to the IRS and withholding agents pursuant to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) and related intergovernmental agreements between the United States and various countries worldwide.

Zambia Small Flag Zambia

Section 8 of the Income Tax Act and section 21 of the Zambia Revenue Authority Act provides that the information is confidential but that confidentiality does not extend to investigations by law enforcement agencies.

Zambia Is not a signatory to Common Reporting Standard. However, the Patents and Companies Registration Agency, pursuant to section 21 (2) of the Companies Act No 10 of 2017 has now made provision for a beneficial ownership registrar.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

Section 18 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA) imposes a duty on HMRC officials to ensure that taxpayer information is kept confidential. It is a criminal offence to contravene section 18 by disclosing information to a person whose identity is specified in the disclosure or can be deduced from it. The section 18 duty is not absolute and it does not apply to a disclosure which “is made for the purposes of a function of the Revenue and Customs and does not contravene any restriction imposed by the commissioners.”

A case of particular interest on this exception is R (Ingenious Media Holdings plc) v The Commissioners for HMRC [2013] EWHC 3258 (Admin). This judgment emphasizes that HMRC’s duty of confidentiality is a fundamental duty owed to the taxpayer.

The UK is a signatory to the CRS. Reporting runs annually from 1 January to 31 December. Financial institutions are legally required to provide the required information to HMRC. Information of beneficial ownership of companies is now publicly available on the Companies House website.

Belgium Small Flag Belgium

Yes. Civil servants within the Belgian tax authority are required to maintain professional confidentiality and may not disclose, outside of their profession, any information which the civil servants were granted access to by virtue of their professional activity. A violation of that obligation constitutes a criminal offence.

Belgium is a signatory to the Common Reporting Standard and has transposed it into national law by virtue of the Law of 16 December 2015. On 20 July 2017, the Belgian parliament has passed a law introducing a public Register of beneficial ownership, thus implementing EU Directive 2015/849 of 20 May 2015. The Register is however not yet in place and several key modalities still have to be worked out by royal decree.

Panama Small Flag Panama

Tax data is not public information therefore is treated as confidential information. Only in specific cases such as criminal process, family process such information could be obtain but through the requirement of the judges.

Only the taxpayer and its authorized people are able to access to the tax data.

Panama has implemented the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) obligations. On July 31st, 2018 was the final date for filing CRS reports regarding 2017 information.

There is no public registry of beneficial ownership.

Updated: October 9, 2019