Washington (May 4, 2004) – The tax commissioners of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a joint task force to increase collaboration and coordinate information about abusive tax transactions.

An initial focus of the work will include the ways in which financial products are used in abusive tax transactions by corporations and individuals to reduce their tax liabilities, and the identification of the promoters who develop and market those products and arrangements.

While the tax administrations operate primarily within their own borders, many abusive tax transactions employ strategies that cross borders, and many of the promoters of these transactions operate globally. Setting up a joint task force will enable the four countries to share expertise, best practices and experiences in the field of tax administration; exchange information about specific abusive tax transactions and their promoters and investors within the framework of the countries’ existing bilateral tax treaties; and carry out their individual abusive tax transaction enforcement activities more effectively and efficiently.

"This represents an unprecedented international effort to combat the plague of abusive tax shelters," Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark W. Everson said. "The creation of this group sends a strong, unmistakable message to promoters who cross borders to cloak tax schemes. This effort will help us build faith in our country's commitment to a fair tax system."

Officials of the tax administrations will work together in Washington, D.C., during the initial phase of the task force’s operation, and will review the operations of the task force after 12 months.

-- WebCPA staff

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