In a communique issued on Friday, the countries, which have been at a summit in Russia, said the plans were aimed at tackling “tax avoidance, harmful practices and aggressive tax planning”.
The statement said: “We commend the progress recently achieved in the area of tax transparency and we fully endorse the OECD proposal for a truly global model for multilateral and bilateral automatic exchange of information.
“Calling on all other jurisdictions to join us by the earliest possible date, we are committed to automatic exchange of information as the new global standard, which must ensure confidentiality and the proper use of information exchanged, and we fully support the OECD work with G20 countries aimed at presenting such a new single global standard for automatic exchange of information by February 2014 and to finalizing technical modalities of effective automatic exchange by mid- 2014.”
The statement added it expects to begin to exchange information automatically on tax matters among G20 members by the end of 2015.
The G20’s announcement was welcomed by Fiona Fernie, a partner at tax and accountancy specialist BDO. Fernie said: “This is a major breakthrough and representative of the way that the tide is turning against tax evasion. In the past few years we’ve seen so many developments in the fight against tax evasion: offshore disclosure agreements, partial amnesties and now automatic information exchange agreements, this would have been unheard of 5 years ago.
“HMRC is already preparing to receive an unprecedented amount of information as a result of the US-led Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which was enacted in 2010. These extra information sharing provisions represent a fundamental shift in the UK’s ability to track down tax evaders. The world will be a much smaller place as a result.”