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islands removed from US ‘blacklist’

In the US, Senator Carl Levin recently presented the latest version of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act – and one of the most notable changes was the removal of the so-called offshore secrecy jurisdictions. In previous versions of the bill, the three Crown Dependencies – Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – had been among 34 countries on the ‘blacklist’. But a shift in emphasis means the list technically no longer exists. Levin said that the new bill, instead of recommending that the US treasury automatically impose stiffer requirements on those who used offshore jurisdictions, would “build on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of 2010, by creating tougher disclosure, evidentiary, and enforcement consequences for US persons who do business with foreign financial institutions that reject FATCA’s call for disclosing accounts used by US persons”. Ministers from both Jersey and Guernsey have made strong representations to

the US Treasury and Senate officials since the Act was first tabled, and see this as a vindication of the efforts that have been made in increased transparency. However, some are concerned at how the focus has shifted. As Keith Johnston, Director of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners,

points out: “Blacklists tend to be a rather blunt policy instrument, so the fact that Levin has dropped this idea, following some robust lobbying from the islands and others, is welcome. However, Levin has now moved on from targeting countries to targeting institutions, and this is unlikely to please practitioners already having to deal with the heavy compliance burden imposed by FATCA.” n

Jersey signs two new TiEAs Jersey’s total number of tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) rose to 23 recently, with the signing of new agreements with South Africa and the Czech Republic. Senator Freddie Cohen, the Assistant Chief Minister for International Relations,

was present at the signing of both agreements. He said: “The signing of a tax information exchange agreement with South Africa is of particular significance. This is not only because South Africa is a G20 member country, but also because business links between Jersey and South Africa are already strong – and we believe they will be further strengthened by this agreement.” Jersey has sought to sign tax agreements with every one of the 19 G20 member jurisdictions, the 20th member being the European Union. n

inheritance law changes in Guernsey

The States of Guernsey has passed new legislation on inheritance law for the Bailiwick, replacing the current system of forced heirship with that of testamentary freedom. This means that islanders now have the freedom to dispose of their property in a will as they wish, and aligns Guernsey inheritance law more closely with English law on this subject. Under Guernsey’s current inheritance laws, an individual who has a spouse or children

must leave part of his or her property to them. Different rules apply in respect of real property (land and buildings in Guernsey) and personal property (anything other than real property – which includes money and investments). There are also different rules where there is a will and where the person dies intestate (without a valid will). Deputy Mary Lowe, of the Inheritance Law Review Committee, said it was the right time

to bring the law up to date. The changes will not be effective until the new law has been registered, and this may not happen until the latter part of 2011 or early 2012. n

Government reviews remote gambling

The UK Government has announced that it will review the case for amending the taxation regime for remote gambling. This follows a recent Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) proposal to make changes to its regulation. In a written ministerial statement

to Parliament, Secretary to the Treasury Justine Greening stated: “On Thursday 14 July, the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose, announced that he proposes that the Gambling Act should be amended so that remote gambling is regulated on a point-of- consumption basis. “Under this proposal, operators,

here and abroad will be required to hold a Gambling Commission licence to transact with British consumers. I will review the case for changing the taxation regime in line with John Penrose’s proposal and taxing operators on the basis of customer location. “Separately, other countries are also

changing both their regulatory and taxation regimes for remote gambling. I will consider the tax implications of these developments. In particular, I will consider ways to stop operators in the UK being subject to double taxation on remote gambling in the short term.” n

12 August/September 2011 Stay on top of the latest business news from the Channel islands at

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