Tax-evasion agreement signed by major European countries

Italy, France, Germany, UK and Spain on board

Tax-evasion agreement signed by major European countries

(ANSA) - Rome, July 26 - Five European countries on Thursday signed an information-exchange agreement that aims to help governments combat tax evasion. The agreement - signed by Italy, France, Germany, the UK and Spain - is "an important step in efforts to combat international tax evasion through the automatic exchange of information," said Italian Economy Ministry Vittorio Grilli. The deal, according to a ministry statement, follows European countries' efforts to improve tax collection and comply with the impending application of the US's new FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) rules, which require foreign banks to report and disclose US interests in foreign financial institutions and is aimed at preventing tax avoidance by wealthy US citizens. The new agreement tells financial institutions what types of information related to financial accounts they need to communicate to their relevant national authorities. The information is then to be exchanged automatically on the basis of bilateral tax treaties or on existing information-sharing agreements. The agreement is open to other countries, the statement said. "Cooperation will continue with the aim of reaching equivalent levels in reciprocal information exchange as well as the greatest uniformity in the technical application of the agreed information exchange," it said. "More detailed guidelines will soon be made available". The new agreements - among European countries and between European nations and the US - will respect double-taxation treaties limitations, according to the statement.

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