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Jakarta Post

RI, Singapore step up tax-compliance efforts

  • Esther Samboh

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, December 16, 2014   /  09:17 am

Indonesia and Singapore have expressed a commitment to intensify taxation-information exchanges to counter cross-border tax evasion and tax avoidance, according to a statement issued by the Finance Ministry.

The agreement was made during a meeting on Monday between Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro and Singapore'€™s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

'€œThe two finance ministers agreed to significantly step up the amount of information exchanged by request to reveal information about all assets owned by citizens of the two countries, including financial accounts that have been deliberately hidden to avoid and evade tax,'€ the statement reads.

Indonesia and Singapore have had an agreement since 1992 to exchange tax-related information upon request, including data from financial institutions and individuals who have access to the information.

Both countries have also expressed a commitment to adjust local legislation to support the automatic exchange of financial information.

The mechanism should begin operation by 2017 or 2018 at the latest, according to the statement.

In a bid to tackle cross-border tax evasion, G20 countries, of which Indonesia is a member, have adopted standards drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for automatic exchanges of information.

Under these standards, countries could sign reciprocal agreements that they would automatically share certain pieces of financial information about each others'€™ taxpayers, Reuters reported.

Indonesia is boosting measures to collect more taxes, as the country has been struggling to meet its collection target each year.

President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo '€” who successfully increased tax revenues as mayor of Surakarta, Central Java, and as governor of capital Jakarta '€” aims to raise the country'€™s tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 16 percent from 12 percent at present, among the lowest in the region, compared with 14.5 percent in Singapore, 16.1 percent in Malaysia and 16.5 percent in Thailand.

'€œA major weakness in the tax system is taxing individuals and the wealthy, especially upper middle-income citizens,'€ Bambang previously said in an interview with The Jakarta Post, citing difficulties in accessing financial information or bank accounts as one of the most pressing problems. Many wealthy Indonesians have assets in Singapore.

The tax-revenue target of Rp 1.38 quadrillion (US$107.1 billion) next year accounts for 78 percent of the total state revenue.

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