In the battle against tax evasion by large multinational companies, the authorities have one very effective weapon – perseverance.
Two years ago, the world’s 20 largest economies – the G20 – decided to take action against illegal tax evasion. But chief financial officers at global corporations weren’t all that worried. Experience had taught them that international efforts on enacting new tax rules take a long time and mostly peter out after a few years.
Since the financial crisis, however, the world is very different. More than 50 countries are working to undercut tax evasion, which was often shielded with the help of Swiss banks. Starting in 2017, banks have agreed to provide data on foreign accounts to their respective home countries.
Swiss banks have been preparing for the move since 2013, and have already begun to request tax documents from clients.
The plan means tax authorities will no longer have to depend only on stolen data, such as the list of possible tax evaders taken from Swiss HSBC, which Christine Lagarde, French finance minister at the time, passed on to European Union colleagues in 2010.