Antigua and Barbuda objects to being named as tax haven
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) — The Antigua and Barbuda government Wednesday formally launched “strong objections” with the State of Illinois in the United States which has introduced legislation listing the island and 10 other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as tax havens.
In letters to Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Illinois General Assembly, Michael Madigan and House Representative Leader, Jim Durkin, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States Sir Ronald Sanders said that the listing is a matter that needs immediate corrective attention as it poses severe threats to Antigua and Barbuda’s economy and the well-being of its people.
In his letters, Sanders provided evidence substantiating that Antigua and Barbuda is not a tax haven including a February 2014 declaration by the Financial Action Task Force, on whose decision-making councils the Government of the United States sits, that the island was fully compliant and cooperative with the international standards that it has established.
Sanders further noted that on the international level, Antigua and Barbuda last year became a signatory to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Common Reporting Standard under which the island is legally bound to report on bank accounts and other assets held in Antigua and Barbuda, to the tax authorities of the originating country.
He said also that Antigua and Barbuda has a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the United States which has been in force since February 10, 2003.
He said this agreement has worked to the satisfaction of the United States government and its agencies, and no request to Antigua and Barbuda for information has been denied.
The diplomat said also that the two countries have concluded an Inter-Governmental Agreement, facilitating implementation of the provisions of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance ACT (FATCA) which came into effect in February this year.
“Under this Agreement, my government and the financial institutions in Antigua and Barbuda have already incurred great cost to provide information on financial information to the US Internal Revenue Service on US companies and persons,” Sanders wrote.
He said that naming Antigua and Barbuda as a tax haven by the State Legislature of Illinois would have devastating effects on the correspondent banking relations between the US and Antigua and Barbuda banks.
“The consequence on my country’s economy would be disastrous, and relations between our two countries would be severely and unnecessarily harmed. I am confident that such consequences were not intended by the State of Illinois.”
Sanders said that the action of the State of Illinois is “unjust” and warrants urgent rectification.
“I respectfully request that you use the authority vested in you as Speaker of the House and House Representative Leader, to draw attention to the wrongful listing of Antigua and Barbuda in HB 3419 and in any other legislation that might be under consideration, and that you urge its correction,” Sir Ronald added.