Global Tax Forum elects SARS Chief Legal Officer as Chair

Kosie Louw, SARS (2nd from right) newly elected Chair of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

SARS’s Chief Officer for Legal and Policy, Kosie Louw, was elected Chair of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes at the organisation’s 5th meeting which was held in Cape Town last week. The appointment is for an initial two-year period from the beginning of 2013. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan congratulated SARS and Kosie Louw on his election as chairperson of the Global Forum on behalf of the South African government.

“I am certain that the two years of South Africa’s chairmanship will be beneficial for the forum but also to the wider global tax administration community. South Africa, the first African chair of the forum, takes over the post of the forum chair from Australia,” Minister Gordhan said.

The position of forum chair is especially important because the forum’s current mandate expires in 2015, and it is during SA’s tenure that a decision must be made on the best way to take the work of the forum forward. SA’s tenure also coincides with very challenging times for tax administrations globally, especially when it comes to the exchange of information for tax purposes, the Minister said. The two-day Global Forum event, held on 26 and 27 October, was hosted by SARS and was attended by delegates from 81 jurisdictions and 11 international organisations.

The Global Forum was created by the OECD in 2000 to provide a forum for achieving and implementing high standards of transparency and exchange of information in a way that is equitable and permits fair competition between all jurisdictions, large and small, OECD and non-OECD. The principle that guides the Global Forum’s work is that all jurisdictions, regardless of their tax systems, should meet such standards in order for competition to take place on the basis of legitimate commercial considerations rather than on the basis of lack of transparency or lack of effective exchange of information for tax purposes.

The Cape Town meeting comes at an important juncture in the work of the Global Forum as it starts evaluating whether its members are actually exchanging information effectively. It is developing a ratings system based on a global consideration of members’ effectiveness at implementing the standard in practice.

The organisation is also looking at ways of refining governance and deliberating on its future direction. The importance of the work of the Global Forum in the region is highlighted by the increasing membership of African countries to 15, with Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Tunisia and Uganda becoming the most recent members. This brings the Forum’s membership to 116.

South Africa has the largest and ever increasing tax treaty network in Africa and is seen as one of the most active jurisdictions in the work towards transparency and exchange of information. The South African Peer review report, which found South Africa’s legal framework and practices to be in accordance with the internationally agreed standard, was adopted by the Global Forum during this meeting. Source: SARSNews

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