Bloomberg News

Liechtenstein Approves New Rules as It Sheds Tax Haven Status

March 30, 2010

Liechtenstein’s government approved a series of tax measures, including 11 data-exchange agreements and legal-assistance rules that conform to international standards, as it sheds its reputation as a rogue tax haven.

The tax-information-exchange agreements include those with the U.K., France, and the Netherlands, the government said today in a statement. Another rule allows British investors in Liechtenstein to declare unpaid taxes voluntarily.

“With this swift implementation, we are creating forward- looking framework conditions for our financial center and legal certainty for clients and treaty partners,” Liechtenstein Prime Minister Klaus Tschuetscher said in the statement.

The rules will be approved by the principality’s 25-member parliament before its 2010 summer recess, the government said.

Liechtenstein, has taken steps for the past year to conform with tax rules set out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The moves were partly in response to Group of 20’s focus on cracking down on tax havens as part of efforts to fight the financial crisis.

Last November, the country was removed from the OECD’s “gray list” of countries that haven’t complied with global tax standards after it signed 12 exchange agreements. The principality, with a population of 35,000 people wedged in the Alps between Switzerland and Austria, had spent years branded by the OECD as an uncooperative tax jurisdiction.

The new rules lay out restrictions to sharing tax information, such as over automatic exchanges and for stolen data obtained by authorities. Germany last month bought a CD with data on Swiss accounts.

The principality last year agreed with the British government on a tax arrangement that allows U.K. voluntary declarations on back taxes in exchange for limited penalties. Tschuetscher has said that while the Liechtenstein-U.K. agreement was “tailor made” for both countries’ tax systems, the country could seek similar agreements with others.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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