By Scieska Adderley
Nassau Guardian Business Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder said his ministry is currently “vetting and reviewing” the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act’s (FATCA) final regulations before The Bahamas becomes compliant.
Following the release of the act’s much anticipated “Model 2” agreement, Pinder said it’s “something that the industry world over has been waiting on to see what FATCA’s final regulations would look like.”
The regulations were originally supposed to be released sometime in August 2012. However, the minister of financial services pointed out that industry stakeholders will now have some more time to prepare their organizations for FATCA.
Once his ministry has finished reviewing the extensive 500-page document, Pinder said the Ministry of Financial Services would host more educational seminars for stakeholders on the matter.
“I do encourage those in the industry to take a look at the regulations. I’m sure that we will be hosting in conjunction with the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) continued education seminars on what the new regulations say, the new revised timelines and what are required of them, what current procedures are in place with respect to money laundering, due diligence and what compliance measures can be extended to cover FATCA measures. We are in the process of fully vetting and reviewing the regulations before we bring it to the industry,” according to Pinder.
While he pledged his government’s commitment to make the best decision for The Bahamas, he remains adamant that the regulations are very private sector focused.
Back in November, Pinder called into question a press release issued by the US Department of the Treasury that left The Bahamas noticeably absent from FATCA participation. The document listed no less than 50 justifications that have engaged the US government on the issue.
The minister said The Bahamas has indeed not made contact with US authorities on FATCA.
“Until the US is prepared to release the full scope of what they deem to be their template, we have no basis to make a decision,” he said last November at the 22nd Annual Conference of the Caribbean Actuarial Association.
Now, however, the government has all the information it needs.
Lawrence Lewis, a partner at Deloitte & Touche, agreed that the industry is still in assessment mode as to what changes were made.
“But so far, it’s largely the same as the latest set of regulations modified by the IGAs (intergovernmental agreements) and some of the revisions to the timeline. There have been some amendments to a few of the timelines like when you actually sign up and when the deadlines are for you to sign up in order to get your global nation identifier number. So, that’s been pushed back a little bit,” he explained.
Lewis, who has responsibility for FATCA within The Bahamas, admitted that many organizations will still be very much challenged by FATCA. However, he is encouraging his colleagues to “get moving” with its preparations.
“I think organizations have been making some progress in respect to it but a number of organizations have taken a wait and see approach for the final regulations to come out and also to understand what’s the government’s position,” he noted.
“Now that we have the final regulations, organizations know what they have to do. It will pretty much be the same in terms of the activities that they need to do whether we’re directly in FATCA or under an IGA. The organizations that haven’t started to move yet, they need to get going. Those that have been a little bit on a pause while they waited for the final regulations, we now have them so they need to restart their plans.”
FATCA seeks to identify US taxpayers having accounts at foreign financial institutions (FFIs) and attempts to enforce the reporting of those accounts.
It is also projected to raise $7.6 billion in tax revenue over a 10-year period.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian