provisionally-largely-compliant

Samoa

To see the determinations and rating of all published reports click here.

Overall rating is Provisionally Largely Compliant

Samoa has been reviewed under the fast-track procedures and assigned provisional overall rating. Samoa will be scheduled to undergo a full review under the strengthened 2016 Terms of Reference in the near future.

Table of Determinations and Ratings of the Phase 2 Review

Jurisdictions should ensure that ownership and identity information for all relevant entities and arrangements is available to their competent authorities. (ToR A.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Partially Compliant.  Although bearer shares have since been abolished, during the review period, the effectiveness of the custodial regime for bearer shares was not monitored.  Samoa should ensure that custodians of bearer shares are aware of the abolition of bearer shares and remediate any ownership information that was not maintained.  
The monitoring of trustee companies is not sufficiently rigorous given the numbers of international entities and arrangements that the trustee companies represent.   Samoa should conduct more in-depth inspections of its trustee companies in regard to the availability of ownership information. 
Jurisdictions should ensure that reliable accounting records are kept for all relevant entities and arrangements. (ToR A.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place, but certain aspects of the legal implementation of the element need improvement.   Liquidated domestic and foreign companies, foreign benefiting trusts and unit trusts are not explicitly required to maintain their accounting records, including underlying documentation, for a minimum of five years.   Samoa should require all relevant entities and arrangements to keep reliable accounting records, including underlying documentation, for a minimum of five years 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Partially Compliant.  During the review period, Samoa’s laws did not require the keeping of reliable accounting records by all relevant entities and this caused an impediment to exchange of information in practice. Samoa has recently enacted new laws to ensure the keeping of accounting information and underlying documentation by all relevant entities in line with the international standard. Since the amendments are very recent they have not been tested in practice.  Samoa should monitor the practical implementation of the new laws to ensure that all relevant entities keep accounting records and underlying documentation and that all types of information are exchanged in line with the international standard. 
During the review period, there was limited oversight or monitoring of the availability of accounting records. The only mechanism used to ensure the availability of accounting records was through tax obligations, which do not apply to the international entities and arrangements.  Samoa should put in place a sufficiently rigorous monitoring regime to ensure that all relevant entities and arrangements are maintaining accounting records as required. 
Banking information should be available for all account-holders. (ToR A.3)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
Competent authorities should have the power to obtain and provide information that is the subject of a request under an exchange of information arrangement from any person within their territorial jurisdiction who is in possession or control of such information (irrespective of any legal obligation on such person to maintain the secrecy of the information). (ToR B.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The rights and safeguards (e.g. notification, appeal rights) that apply to persons in the requested jurisdiction should be compatible with effective exchange of information. (ToR B.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
Exchange of information mechanisms should provide for effective exchange of information. (ToR C.1)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The jurisdictions' network of information exchange mechanisms should cover all relevant partners. (ToR C.2)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.     Samoa should continue to develop its EOI network with all relevant partners. 
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The jurisdictions' mechanisms for exchange of information should have adequate provisions to ensure the confidentiality of information received. (ToR C.3)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The exchange of information mechanisms should respect the rights and safeguards of taxpayers and third parties. (ToR C.4)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The element is in place.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Compliant.     
The jurisdiction should provide information under its network of agreements in a timely manner. (ToR C.5)
Determination Factors Recommendations
The assessment team is not in a position to evaluate whether this element is in place, as it involves issues of practice that are dealt with in the Phase 2 review.      
Phase 2 Rating Factors Recommendations
Partially Compliant.  Samoa has experienced difficulties during the review period to answer EOI requests in a timely manner, with two of the four requests being outstanding for more than two years. This was due to a lack of sufficient staff, no clear procedure for operating the EOI unit for most of the review period and difficulties obtaining information where it was held offshore.   Samoa should ensure that answers to EOI requests are made in a timely manner in all cases. 
Samoa did not always provide an update or status report to its EOI partners within 90 days in the event that it was unable to provide a substantive response within that time.  Samoa should provide status updates to its EOI partners within 90 days where relevant. 
Samoa put in place a new process for responding to EOI requests towards the end of the review period and its effectiveness could not be adequately assessed. In addition, Samoa received relatively few requests during the review period.  Samoa should monitor the practical implementation of the organisational processes and resources of the EOI unit, in particular taking account of any significant changes to the volume of incoming EOI requests, to ensure that they are sufficient for effective EOI in practice. 

Earlier self-assessment based annual reports entitled Tax Co-operation 2010: Towards a Level Playing Field are also available.