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Maximum Eur 250,000: the price to bypass tax agreements in Luxembourg?

A draft law is before the Chambre des Députés (Luxembourg legislature) to enforce agreements that Luxembourg signed based on OECD's Model Agreement on the Exchange of Information on Tax Matters.

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The text states that the Luxembourg tax administration
- will examine the requests from foreign tax administration to assess if they comply with the law and the agreement, and if so
- will request officially (registered letter) the data from the entity.

Should the entity not provide the data within one month, it would be fined up to EUR 250,000 by the Luxembourg tax administration, on the director's discretion.

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What does that mean from a practical point of view?

1. A fine is not coercive: why not introduce a criminal liability and authorise an investigation to look for the data?

2. This amount of EUR 250 000 is ridiculous when one knows the amounts of tax evasion and anyway is a maximum that will never be  fined (See administrative fines by CSSF).

Above all, this fine is actually a way to bypass the agreements based on the OECD tax model. Luxembourg bankers are very creative. One can imagine a new service for clients that would be charged a fixed price of EUR 250,000 for the bank to keep secrecy ; and I do not think a new request from foreign tax administration on the same data will be accepted.

I will quote again ALFI in a recent brochure knoking that it is true as well for ABBL:

« Shape regulation. An up-to-date, innovative legal and fiscal environment is critical to defend and improve Luxembourg's competitive position as a centre for the domiciliation, administration and distribution of investment funds. Strong relationships with regulatory authorities, the government and the legislative body enable ALFI to make an effective contribution to decision-making through relevant input for changes to the regulatory framework, implementation of European directives and regulation of new products or services. »

(Source ALFI brochure: " Your bridge between Europe and China: Luxembourg".

This draft law is perfect implemnetation of that "influence" and explain the reason why many professionals communicate that the agreements do not change things for clients:

- money of evasion will be accepted
- there is a way in the law to keep secrecy

Let's read again what Angel Gurria said in the OECD press release dated 8 July 2009: “I commend Luxembourg for its swift implementation of the OECD standards on exchange of information. In three months, Luxembourg has turned into reality its commitment to fully cooperate in tax matters. I would like to congratulate Minister Luc Frieden for his leadership in this process”.

Fully cooperate ?

I wonder what is OECD's opinion (Pascal Saint Amans and Angel Gurria's opinion) about that?

09:45 Posted in Luxembourg | Permalink | Comments (0)

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