Belize removed from EU tax haven blacklist
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
Belize is back in good graces with the European Union (EU) after its Economic and Financial Affairs Council removed the country from the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions on Friday, November 8th. This change came after the recent amendment to the International Business Act, along with the promulgation of the Economic Substance Act. The House of Representatives and the Senate passed these pieces of legislation within a couple of days to meet the requirements from the EU, so to be removed from the said blacklist.
The removal of the country from the blacklist is considered a great accomplishment for Belize. Prime Minister Right Honourable Dean Barrow welcomed the decision, signalling his government’s willingness to modernize the international tax framework. A press release from the government stated that it would continue to engage with EU officials and the international business and financial services sector to address additional technical issues.
While the government applauded this decision from the EU, the Leader of the Opposition, Honourable John Briceño, was not convinced but welcomed the notion hesitantly. “There are still some sections that need to be corrected,” said Briceño. “I am happy that it finally got there, but there are a few corrections to make with the legislation.” According to Briceño, this is the third time the country has done as asked by the EU.
The amendment to the Acts in International Business and Economic Substance began on October 4th in the House of Representatives. They passed six pieces of legislation that gained the attention of the EU. The key piece of the legislation was the International Business Companies Act, which was modified to avoid any further issues with the EU. In the past, Belize was accused of maintaining laws that favored tax evasion.
On October 9th, the Senate debated the legislation. At the end of the session, the Senators approved and passed the bills into law. The EU removed Belize from the blacklist as a tax haven a month later.
Eight other countries remain blacklisted by the EU; they include Oman, Fiji, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu along with the three United States territories: American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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