The Gillard Government welcomes the commitment by the Group of Eight overnight to a new global standard for tax information exchange. Governments around the world have a responsibility to make sure that their tax systems are both fair and transparent and automatic information exchange will enable greater coordination between tax authorities to achieve this.
The Gillard Government is currently looking into joining with a number of European countries in an initiative to exchange information automatically between tax authorities. This would continue the Government's strong commitment and global leadership in promoting exchange of information as an important part of ensuring the integrity of the international tax system.
Australia has been a strong advocate in the G20 of the OECD's work to address tax base erosion and profit shifting and will continue to work through our host year in 2014 to ensure the international community is working together on this global challenge.
The Government will not shy away from this challenge – we'll continue our reform of the tax laws to ensure that multinationals and high wealth individuals pay their fair share so that the tax burden is not disproportionately carried by households and small businesses in the future.
The Group of Eight's announcement is particularly welcome given Australia's work as Chair of the 120 member Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes from 2009 to 2012. During this time, Australia championed a substantial ramp up in information exchange agreements internationally, including a multilateral convention that 55 countries have now signed.
Australia has signed 44 bilateral tax treaties and 34 tax information exchange agreements, with over 90 per cent of these tax information exchange agreements signed since the Labor Government came to office.
The Gillard Government also announced its intention to update the Australia-Switzerland tax treaty to promote investment and overcome long standing bank secrecy provisions preventing the sharing of information for detecting tax evasion.