Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday launched strong objections with the US State of Illinois which has introduced legislation listing Antigua and Barbuda and ten CARICOM countries along with six other Caribbean jurisdictions 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 and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States Sir Ronald Sanders said that the listing is a matter that needs immediate corrective attention as it poses severe threats to Antigua and Barbuda’s economy and the well-being of its people.
In his letters of objection, Sir Ronald provided evidence substantiating that Antigua and Barbuda is not a tax haven. Among them is the fact that in February 2014, the Financial Action Task Force, on whose decision-making councils the Government of the United States sits, declared Antigua and Barbuda to be fully compliant and cooperative with the international standards that it has established.
Sir Ronald further pointed out that on the international level, Antigua and Barbuda last year (2016) became a signatory to the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard under which Antigua and Barbuda is legally bound to report on bank accounts and other assets held in Antigua and Barbuda, to the tax authorities of the originating country.
With regards to Antigua and Barbuda’s relations with the United States, Ambassador Sanders outlined that the country has a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the United States which has been in force since February 10th, 2003. This agreement, he says, has worked to the satisfaction of the Government of the United States and its agencies, and no request to Antigua and Barbuda for information has been denied.
The country’s US Ambassador also highlighted the fact that Antigua and Barbuda and the United States have concluded an Inter-Governmental Agreement, facilitating implementation of the provisions of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance ACT (FATCA). This agreement, he noted came into effect in February of this year.
“Under this Agreement, my government and the financial institutions in Antigua and Barbuda have already incurred great cost to provide information on financial information to the US Internal Revenue Service on US companies and persons,” Sir Ronald pointed out.
Having highlighted a number of facts in his letters, Sir Ronald noted that naming Antigua and Barbuda as a tax haven by the State Legislature of Illinois would have devastating effects on the correspondent banking relations between the US and Antigua and Barbuda banks.
“The consequence on my country’s economy would be disastrous, and relations between our two countries would be severely and unnecessarily harmed. I am confident that such consequences were not intended by the State of Illinois,” Sir Ronald wrote.
In concluding, Sir Ronald was very forceful in pointing out that the action of the State of Illinois is unjust and warrants urgent rectification.
“I respectfully request that you use the authority vested in you as Speaker of the House and House Representative Leader, to draw attention to the wrongful listing of Antigua and Barbuda in HB 3419 and in any other legislation that might be under consideration, and that you urge its correction,” Sir Ronald’s letters concluded.