Tax information privacy in the era of enhanced transparency

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Julkaisun nimi: Tax information privacy in the era of enhanced transparency
Tekijä: Poutala, Jyri
Muu tekijä: Helsingin yliopisto, Oikeustieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Helsingfors universitet, Juridiska fakulteten
Julkaisija: Helsingin yliopisto
Päiväys: 2017
Kieli: eng
Opinnäytteen taso: pro gradu -tutkielmat
Oppiaine: Kansainvälinen oikeus
International law
Tiivistelmä: Information exchange for tax purposes has grown tremendously during the past decade pursuant to the objective of international tax policy to enhance transparency. The most recent steps towards enhanced transparency take place in the autumn 2017 when the first automatic exchanges of financial information are made between national tax authorities. The development of transparency and exchange information has generated much attention towards taxpayer protection. As the exchange includes not only information on taxpayer-individual’s income and assets, but also, data regarding his person, taxpayer privacy has proved to be one of the core issues in taxpayer protection. The thesis examines how tax information privacy is protected in the era of enhanced transparency. In doing so, the paper discusses exchange of information under OECD tax instruments and how it has evolved in international tax policy. The thesis asserts that taxpayers, by way of being human beings for the purposes of the thesis, are entitled to supplementary protection provided by general human rights. As such, it studies European supranational human rights regulation, in particular, privacy protection under the ECHR and the EU Charter, as well as international and European Union data protection law. The research concludes that taxpayers’ tax information privacy is protected at all levels covered. Protection is thus found under international tax instruments, general human rights and data protection law. That protection is found, however, to be insufficient due to a number of privacy concerns found in the tax information exchange procedure. The tax instruments, as well as human rights and data protection law, have been unable to solve these concerns in full. Ultimately, the thesis stresses that the immense public interest involved with the enhanced transparency policy limits effectively the scope of protection. However how limited the available protection is, the paper is able to show certain level of convergence in tax information privacy protection between the tax instruments, human rights and data protection. Moreover, the paper suggests two lines of development for the future: first, it agrees on the need to establish a multilateral convention to unify taxpayer protection across different tax information exchange instruments. This multilateral ‘taxpayer bill of rights’ should take due account on the human rights and data protection outside the context of international taxation. Secondly, the paper suggests that the extraterritorial influence of EU data protection law could enhance, through practice, the position of taxpayer-information protection.


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