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US Treasury disputes EU decision to include Guam on tax haven blacklist

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The U.S. Treasury Secretary is disputing a decision by the European Union to place Guam, and American Samoa, on its blacklist of noncooperating tax jurisdictions.

Steven MnuchinSteven Mnuchin
In a letter to EU Secretary General Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote that “there is no basis for concluding that American Samoa and Guam have any role in promoting the evasion or avoidance of taxes imposed by European Union member states.”

The European Union issued a release last month citing Guam and American Samoa among 17 jurisdictions for “failing to meet agreed tax good governance standards.”

In his letter, Mnuchin counters that “the United States has full confidence in American Samoa, Guam, and all of the U.S. territories; their tax administrations; and their compliance with international norms with respect to taxation.”

Specifically, the EU faulted Guam for not applying “BEPS minimum standards” and not signing or ratifying “the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance” on tax matters.

BEPS stands for “base erosion and profit shifting.” It refers to tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps in tax rules to shift profits to low or no-tax locations. The OECD convention is a multilateral agreement among participating members to combat tax evasion.

Mnuchin points out that Guam and the other American territories are already bound to international tax standards through the United States. “The commitments and actions of the United States in implementing BEPS minimum standards extend to the U.S. Territories,” Mnuchin wrote.

The letter underscores the close connection between the legal framework in the U.S. territories and the United States as a whole. Mnuchin called on the EU to “reconsider” its decision to analyze the territories separately, and its decision to include American Samoa and Guam on its list of noncooperative tax jurisdictions.