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Caribbean Countries Are Hopping Mad About Being Blacklisted As A Tax Haven By D.C.: Why Aren’t We?

Gaston-Browne

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne

CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The Caribbean Association of Banks is expressing concern over the inclusion of 19 Caribbean islands and territories on a list of tax havens in the District of Columbia Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Act of 2015, which is awaiting approval by the U.S. Congress.

The D.C. legislation seeks to expand the definition of tax haven to the detriment of Caribbean territories that are making good faith efforts against tax evasion, the CAB said Wednesday in a statement.

“While the CAB fully supports the District of Columbia’s efforts to combat tax evasion, the CAB feels that the designation of Caribbean territories as ‘tax havens’ is prejudicial,” the St. Lucia-based organization said.

Because the District of Columbia is a territory, its legislation must be approved by Congress. In this case, the review process is expected to continue for several more weeks and CAB has sent letters to members of Congress urging them to remove several territories from the tax haven blacklist.

CAB said that 10 of the 15 Caribbean Community member-states on the list “are fully or largely compliant and have committed to Automatic Exchange of Information.”

Those 10 CARICOM members are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“This action by the District of Columbia is ill-informed,” said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne. “It is as harmful to our jurisdictions as it is unjust.   It will scare away U.S. investors and it continues a pattern of smearing the reputations of our financial services industry.”

Bermuda’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Bob Richards objected to his country’s inclusion on the list as well.

“As we recently told the European Commission, Bermuda is fully cooperative through tax information exchange agreements,” Richards said. “The United Nations and the World Trade Organization consider domestic taxation laws to be the sovereign right of nations and jurisdictions, regardless of whether they are based on consumption or income.”

As did the Bahamas.

“The Bahamas has an exemplary history of functional cooperation through tax information exchange with the United States since 2003,” wrote Eugene Newry, the Bahamas ambassador to the United States, “and has met and exceeded international standards for tax information exchange as set by the OECD through the adoption of some 30 bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreements.”

Non-CARICOM and CARICOM associate members included on the D.C. tax haven list are: Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

CARICOM members not participating with U.S. banking requests are: Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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