Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his administration in Antigua & Barbuda, Wednesday formally launched “strong objections” with the State of Illinois in the United States which has introduced legislation listing the twin-island nation 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 & Barbuda’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Ronald Sanders said that the listing is a matter that needs immediate corrective attention as it poses severe threats to Antigua & Barbuda’s economy and the well-being of its people.
In his letters, Sanders provided evidence substantiating that Antigua & 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 twin-island nation was fully compliant and cooperative with the international standards that it has established.
Sanders further noted that on the international level, Antigua & Barbuda last year became a signatory to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Common Reporting Standard under which the country is legally bound to report on bank accounts and other assets held in Antigua & Barbuda, to the tax authorities of the originating country.
He said also that Antigua & 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 U.S. government and its agencies, and no request to Antigua & Barbuda for information has been denied.
The diplomat said also that the 2 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 & 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 & Barbuda as a tax haven by the State Legislature of Illinois would have devastating effects on the correspondent banking relations between the U.S. and Antigua & Barbuda banks.
“The consequence on my country’s economy would be disastrous, and relations between our 2 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. -(CMC)