To Be or Not to Be a Tax Haven

If Panama does not efficiently and effectively provide the information required by foreign authorities, it will worsen the current perception of non-cooperation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

An analysis of this thorny issue made by Carlos Barsallo, president of the National Securities Commission, makes clear that since 1949, the adoption of Act 62 of 1938, Resolution 38 October 1949 and the reform of the Tax Code 1957 and subsequent regulations, have the clear purpose of turning Panama into an offshore financial services center (commonly known as a tax haven).

Barsallo notes that, beyond the hypocrisy of many governments now branding Panama as a tax haven, the general vocation of its financial system is precisely to provide services "solely based on confidentiality and non-international cooperation."

Regarding the measures taken by Panama in recent years, such as the signing of bilateral tax information exchange and other internal rules to reform the system, Barsallo says that now the question is whether to put into effect those actions, which undoubtedly "will be to the liking of some and not to others."

"If it provides the required information Panama may begin to overcome the problem of international complaints about lack of cooperation, but end users of the services that Panama offers who have made their decision to use Panama, exclusively based on confidentiality and Panama's international non-cooperation are likely to reconsider their decision. "

More on this topic

Tax Convention Costa Rica - Mexico

May 2012

In Costa Rica an agreement with the United Mexican States on the Exchange of Information in Tax Matters is in force.

From la Gaceta 101 of 25 May 2012:


The competent authorities of the Contracting Parties will provide assistance through exchange of information that is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of domestic law with respect to taxes or tariffs covered by this Agreement. The information will include such things as is foreseeably relevant to the determination, assessment and collection of such tax or tariffs, for the collection and enforcement of tax claims or investigation or prosecution of tax matters.

Guatemala To Sign its First Double Taxation Treaty

January 2012

In January, the first Convention of Tax Information Exchange could be signed with Australia.

In order for this convention, and others are under negotiation, to be implemented, Congress needs to approve the banking secrecy law, which would allow access to accounts relating to tax matters, a requirement of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Panama To Negotiate Tax Agreement with UK

November 2011

Both countries have agreed to start meetings in Panama, in order to sign a Double Taxation Treaty.

A press release from Panama’s Ministry of Economy and Finance states:

Following a visit by the Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima, to Britain, and also his meeting with David Hartnett of HM Revenue and Customs, both officials have agreed to start meetings in Panama, with the view to signing a Double Taxation Treaty .

OECD Updates Tax Haven Lists

September 2009

Costa Rica and Guatemala were upgraded to the "Gray List", whereas Panama remains listed as a "Tax Haven".

A September 24th report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), shows progress in the implementation of transparency and fiscal information exchange standards.

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