Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Belize removed from EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes

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The European Union (EU) has removed Belize from the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, providing relief to the country’s financial services. This decision was made on Tuesday, February 20th, after the Belizean government made significant efforts towards compliance with the EU. The announcement also brought good news for other countries such as The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Seychelles, which were also removed from the blacklist.
The Government of Belize welcomed this update from the EU. Minister of State for Finance, Economic Development, and Investment, Honorable Christopher Coye said that such removal from this list demonstrates the EU’s recognition of Belize’s commitment to transparency of its tax and regulatory framework. Coye also noted that Belize now has an effective regime for exchanging information on tax matters and that this decision corrects Belize’s false and unfair designation as a non-cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes. “It also establishes an effective regime for exchanging information on tax matters. It also corrects Belize’s false and unfair designation as a non-cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes,” said Coye. One of the efforts towards compliance was the successful request for a Supplementary Review by the Global Forum, which is set to take place in the first quarter of 2025.
Prime Minister Honorable Dr. John Briceño added that removing Belize from such a blocklist is the result of the dedication and hard work of the team from the Ministry of Finance and Financial Services Commission. He expressed pride in this tremendous achievement, reinforcing Belize’s reputation as a place where firms and individuals with good reputations can conduct and promote their business. “My government is proud of this tremendous achievement and its reinforcement of the reputation of Belize as a place where firms and individuals of substance and good reputation can conduct and promote their business,” the Briceño. The Prime Minister also emphasized Belize’s unwavering commitment to working with its global partners to establish a modern international tax framework underpinned by shared responsibility, accountability, and fairness.
In October 2023, Belize was added to the EU’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax evasion after receiving a negative assessment from the Global Forum. This was due to issues with the exchange of information that Belize had requested. The government considered this to be unfair and unjust. They also stated that blocklisting Belize led to incorrect assumptions about the country’s commitment to establishing a fair and modern international tax framework with its global partners. In December 2023, the Belizean government requested a Supplementary Review of the Global Forum. They believed substantial legislative amendments and other administrative and operational changes had already been made. These changes remedied the deficiencies, and on February 7th, Belize was informed that their request for a Supplementary Review was successful. The review is set to take place next year.
The EU created a system to blacklist countries in 2017 after several scandals, including the Panama Papers. These incidents put pressure on the EU in Brussels, Belgium, to take action against tax evasion by wealthy people in other countries. Belize was previously on this list but was removed under the former Prime Minister Right Honorable Dean Barrow’s administration in November 2019. This achievement was due to the government’s amendment of the International Business Act and the promulgation of the Economic Substance Act. These laws were passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate in just a few days to meet the EU’s requirements in 2019.

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