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Ireland signs up to global tax agreement

IRELAND has signed up to a global tax agreement with dozens of other countries to put an end to banking secrecy and tackle international tax evasion.

The finance ministers of about 50 countries gathered in Berlin yesterday with over 30 of them, including Michael Noonan, signing a pact allowing for the automatic exchange of tax information.

Under the agreement, banks with foreign customers will have to forward details to tax authorities, which in turn will pass the information on to the various national authorities in the countries where the customers are based.


"Banking secrecy, in its old form, is obsolete," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

Mr Schaeuble, who hosted the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes meeting, said banking secrecy was no longer appropriate when people can "transfer their money all over the world at the press of a button via the internet".

Ministers from Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain presented the agreement yesterday afternoon.

More than 40 countries have agreed to adopt the standard starting in 2017, while others including Switzerland and China have committed to start in 2018.

The Revenue Commissioners said yesterday that banks here will have to prepare due diligence by the start of 2016 with the first exchanges of information starting in January 2017.

Under the agreement, information on foreign customers exchanged between a bank and tax authorities will include details of any interest or dividends earned, as well as account balances and the sales proceeds from any financial assets.