QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; I followed your advice and opened an account in the United States. I live in Britain and my daughter lives there in the States so I used her local address. To my shock, it was very easy. You said the USA has become the new tax haven. So the USA is not part of the common reporting that even covers the Middle East?
ANSWER: That is correct. The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) is an information standard for the automatic exchange of tax and financial information on a global level. It was put together by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) back in 2014. Its purpose was to hunt down tax evasion primarily for the European Union. They took the concept from the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which imposed liabilities on foreign institutions if they did not report what Americans were doing outside the country.
The legal basis of the CRS is the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. As of 2016, 83 countries had signed an agreement to implement it. First reporting took place in September 2017. The CRS has many loopholes for countries have to sign the agreement. This has omitted the United States as well as most developing countries. Note that countries that are included are China, Singapore, Switzerland, most tax havens and of course Australian/New Zealand as well as Canada.
As of 2018, the signing nations to avoid are:
Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ghana, Grenada, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Marshall Islands, Macao (China), Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu