What is the CRS?
Following on from FATCA and UK FATCA, the OECD has implemented the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information, or the Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) for short. The CRS provides for annual automatic exchange between governments of financial account information reported by financial institutions. It sets out the financial account information to be exchanged, the financial institutions that need to report, the different types of accounts and taxpayers covered, as well as common due diligence procedures to be followed by financial institutions.
Under US FATCA, only account holders which are US persons are required to be identified and reported. Under the CRS, tax residents of all jurisdictions that have implemented the CRS will need to be identified and reported. More than 90 jurisdictions around the world have already expressed their commitment to implement the CRS.
As with US FATCA, reportable accounts include accounts held with financial institutions (such as banks, custodians or investment funds) by individuals and entities (which includes trusts and foundations), and the CRS includes a requirement to look through passive entities to report on the individuals that ultimately control these entities. Notably, there is no de-minimis threshold except for pre-existing accounts which have a value below US$250,000.
How does it affect Cayman Islands financial institutions and affected entities and individuals?
Cayman is one of more than 50 jurisdictions that committed to early adoption of the CRS and signed a multilateral competent authority agreement committing to undertake the automatic exchange of financial account information under the CRS by September 2017.
Different requirements apply to pre-existing accounts and new accounts with a Cayman Islands financial institution. Pre-existing accounts are those that exist on 31 December 2015 and new accounts will be those opened from 1 January 2016. Any account that exists with a Cayman Islands financial institution as of 31 December 2015 (which will typically include an investment in a Cayman Islands fund) must be subsequently reviewed and reported. Any account that is opened on or after 1 January 2016 will be subject to new account opening procedures that will record the tax residence of the account holder/investor. The first reporting to the Cayman Islands Department of International Tax Cooperation (“DITC”) is anticipated to be required by 31 May 2017.
- By October 2015: The DITC will introduce local regulations implementing the CRS.
- 31 December 2015: Any accounts with a Cayman Islands financial institution in existence on this date will be deemed to be pre-existing accounts for the purposes of the CRS.
- 1 January 2016: Any accounts opened with a Cayman Islands financial institution on or after this date will be deemed to be new accounts for the purposes of the CRS. New account opening procedures must be in place to record the tax residence of account holders.
- 31 December 2016: Completion of due diligence procedures for identifying high-value pre-existing individual accounts.
- 31 May 2017: Anticipated date for the first reporting from industry to the DITC.
- September 2017: The intended date for the first exchange of information between the DITC and the 50+ jurisdictions that have committed to undertake the first automatic exchange of financial account information under the CRS by this date.
- 31 December 2017: Completion of due diligence for low-value pre-existing individual accounts and entity accounts.
At this stage, Cayman Islands financial institutions (including most investment funds) should begin preparations for the new account opening procedures that must be in place by 1 January 2016 and for the account holder/investor due diligence that will be required in 2016 and 2017.
In the context of Cayman Islands investment funds, fund documents and procedures should also be reviewed in light of the implementation of the CRS.
Should you have any queries regarding the above, or if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Campbells contact or any of the following: