The New York Times, RT and many other top news outlets report that 51 nations on Wednesday signed what Germany’s finance minister hailed as a milestone in the fight against tax evasion – an agreement that commits them all to automatic exchange of tax information starting in 2017.
The two-day summit was organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
With Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain leading the effort, other signatories included Singapore, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, several British territories, like the Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Gibraltar, as well as the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. It’s worth noting that several well-known “fiscal paradises” are in the list.
Austria, Switzerland, and the Bahamas didn’t sign the agreement itself but promised to join the initiative by 2018. Notably absent was the United States, which has preferred to pursue its own path in fighting international tax evasion.
The accord will end banking secrecy as it has been known for decades, the finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, told Germany’s Bild newspaper before the deal.
“Banking secrecy, in its old form, is obsolete. [Banking secrecy is] no longer appropriate at a time when people can transfer their money all over the world at the press of a button via the Internet.”
Bitcoin and the New Banking Secrecy
It’s interesting to speculate of the impact of the end of banking secrecy on the emerging Bitcoin crypto-economy.
It doesn’t seem too likely that wealthy tax evaders will suddenly decide to become good citizens. On the contrary, it’s much more likely that they will look for new ways to store their wealth out of sight of the international tax authorities.
The Bitcoin world, and especially the Bitcoin underground of anonymous and untraceable transactions based on altcoins (e.g. Darkcoin) and anonymizers (or new privacy-oriented sidechains), seems an evident place to look for new forms of banking secrecy.
What do you think about the end of banking secrecy and its implications for Bitcoin? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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