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Guernsey removed from US “blacklist”

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Guernsey’s engagement with Washington has resulted in Democrat Senator Carl Levin removing the Island from his “blacklist”. Guernsey’s Chief Minister Lyndon Trott (pictured) this week met with officials in Washington. The meetings continued a dialogue started nearly a decade ago to strengthen ties between the Guernsey and US governments and reinforced Guernsey’s reputation as a leader in tax transparency, information exchange and international co-operation.

This has led to a number of positive outcomes, with the latest example being Senator Levin this week unveiling a modified bill that no longer mistakenly lists the Island as an “offshore secrecy jurisdiction.” The Chief Minister has met numerous times with Senator Levin’s Chief Investigator and Counsel Bob Roach to discuss Guernsey’s well-regulated financial sector, its lack of bank secrecy laws and its co-operative stance on tax information sharing and to object to the inclusion of Guernsey as a presumed secrecy jurisdiction.

The Chief Minister said: “I was delighted to be advised this week that Guernsey would no longer be unfairly blacklisted in the Senator’s legislation. Our continued dialogue with Senator Levin was instrumental in changing the legislation and I thank the Senator and his team for listening to the facts about Guernsey.

“The decision to no longer blacklist Guernsey is a major achievement that underscores the importance of having started and continuing the dialogue with politicians and government officials in Washington. We are delighted that our relationship with the United States is not only recognised as important but that it continues to be judged by both governments as a success.”

In late 2010 the Multistate Tax Commission (MTC), an advisory group for the 50 American states, also chose to remove a similar mistaken reference to Guernsey as an uncooperative tax haven in model legislation that it recommends to its state officials. Guernsey officials met with MTC staff several times to bring about this change.

In meetings with Congressional offices and top Administration officials in the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Guernsey was warmly welcomed and praised for its continuing efforts to remain at the forefront of international standards.

At a meeting with Emily McMahon, the Acting Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy, and her senior legal advisers, the Treasury officials noted and expressed their admiration for Guernsey’s close partnership with the United States and its shared goals on transparency and information sharing.

James Carroll, a top official in the IRS Overseas Operations office, told the Chief Minister that the IRS is “extremely pleased” with Guernsey’s record. He cited Guernsey’s “phenomenal co-operation” and willingness to meet on a regular basis with the Tax Attaché at the US Embassy in London to ensure the two governments continue to work effectively together.

Although there is an on-going political debate over deficit reduction and “debt ceiling” legislation in the United States, the generous time and serious consideration devoted to these meetings by the many Washington officials was impressive, and testimony to the willingness to engage with Guernsey.

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