Common Reporting Standard, CRS, Explained

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA
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The Common Reporting Standard or CRS is an international network of tax authorities which share personal and financial data about foreign nationals living in their countries.

The CRS started sharing data in 2017, with more countries coming online in the following years.

Today, the CRS covers more than 70 tax authorities.

The aim is to stop individuals and businesses from concealing cash and other assets undetected offshore.

Early Days Of Tax Data Exchange

The European Savings Directive of 2003 was the first multinational automatic exchange of tax data, followed by the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act in 2010.

The success of both in discouraging tax avoidance alerted other governments to how exchanging tax data could help their revenues.

The Common Reporting Standard was developed and agreed by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) by 2014, with the first automatic data transfers taking place in 2017.

How The CRS Works

If a new customer opens an account with a bank, the bank will confirm a list of personal information, including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Place and date of birth
  • Tax residence
  • Taxpayer identification number

For businesses, the bank will also want to know trading status, place of registration and registration number.

If the customer lives in the same country as their tax residence, they are not a CRS reportable person.

If their tax residence is in another country, the bank declares their personal details along with the balance of any account and the amounts of any interest or payments received to the local tax authority.

The tax authority then transmits this data to the customer’s home tax authority.

The home tax authority will expect the customer to declare the details of the bank account on their tax filings.

If they are not on the tax filing, the tax authority will start an inquiry to find out why and to make sure the bank customer hands over the right amount of tax for the year.

The aim is to make hiding money offshore harder for tax dodgers.

Countries In The CRS Network

Here is the current list of countries in the CRS network and the year they started reporting tax data:

CountryYear Started Reporting
Albania2020
Andorra2018
Anguilla2017
Antigua and Barbuda2018
Argentina2017
‌Aruba2018
Australia2018
Austria2018
Azerbaijan 2018
Bahamas2018
Bahrain2018
Barbados2018
Belgium2017
Belize2018
Bermuda2017
Brazil2018
‌British Virgin Islands2017
Brunei Darussalam2018
Bulgaria 2017
Cayman Islands 2017
Colombia 2017
Croatia 2017
Cyprus 2017
Czech Republic 2017
Denmark 2017
Ecuador2020
Estonia 2017
Faroe Islands 2017
Finland 2017
France 2017
Germany 2017
Ghana2019
Gibraltar 2017
Greece 2017
Guernsey 2017
Hungary 2017
Iceland 2017
India 2017
Ireland 2017
Isle of Man 2017
Italy 2017
Jersey 2017
Kazakhstan2020
Kuwait2019
Latvia 2017
Liechtenstein 2017
Lithuania 2017
Luxembourg 2017
Maldives2020
Malta2017
Mexico2017
Montserrat2017
Netherlands2017
Nigeria2020
Norway 2017
Oman2020
Peru2020
Poland 2017
Portugal 2017
Romania 2017
San Marino 2017
Seychelles 2017
Slovak Republic 2017
Slovenia 2017
South Africa 2017
South Korea 2017
Spain 2017
Sweden 2017
Turks and Caicos 2017
United Kingdom 2017
Source: OECD

The list has some notable missing names – like the United States.

The US runs a similar tax reporting network under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). FATCA demands foreign banks report the financial details of US citizens and businesses controlling offshore accounts.

Difference between CRS and FATCA

The CRS has no enforcement powers to make a financial institution file reports, but under FATCA, the US Internal Revenue Service can impose penalties for non-compliance and even ban a foreign bank from trading in the US.

Confirming Tax Residency

Tax residency is a matter of fact rather than choice. Expats cannot elect to be tax resident in a country but must follow a series of rules.

These rules differ between countries and expats unsure of their tax residency should take independent professional advice.

A starting place is the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and development web site, which has a library of guides outlining how most CRS tax authorities define tax residence.

Learn the difference between residence and domicile.

CRS FAQ

Here are some answers to common questions asked about the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

How do I find out which countries report under CRS?

Check the list above or go to the OECD CRS web portal online

What is the Common Reporting Standard (CRS)?

CRS is a data-gathering tool that requires financial institutions to file personal and financial information about consumers and businesses with a tax authority. The aim is to limit the scope of offshore tax avoidance and evasion.

I am American will be data still be swapped under CRS?

If you are a US tax resident, your offshore financial information is subject to FATCA rather than CRS. If you are tax resident in a CRS country, then your data is likely to be transferred to that country under CRS.

How often is CRS information swapped?

Tax authorities swap their data once a year, typically around September. This means swapped data may be out of synch with tax filings.

How do expats define their tax residence?

Tax residence is a complicated topic and expats should take professional advice. A brief outline to tax residency rules set by many countries is available on the OECD web site.

When will expat data be reported to tax authorities?

A CRS reportable person is someone with bank accounts or other financial accounts in a country where they are not tax resident.

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