With the enactment of the legislative amendments to the Inland Revenue Ordinance, MPF and ORSO registered schemes will be required to comply with CRS for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (“AEOI”) with effect from January 1, 2020.
AEOI involves the transmission of financial account information from Hong Kong to an overseas tax jurisdiction with which Hong Kong has an AEOI arrangement (or known as an “AEOI partner”). The information relates only to the tax residents of the jurisdiction of the AEOI partner (“reportable jurisdiction”).
CRS is the standard endorsed for OECD members to implement under AEOI, it requires financial institutions in participating jurisdictions to obtain and report relevant financial account information of their customers to help fight against tax evasion and protect the integrity of tax systems.
Exchanging financial account information on an automatic basis is a new international standard, designed to enhance tax transparency and combat cross-border tax evasion. Members of the international community have been advocating AEOI as a more efficient mode of international tax cooperation and have made it a new global standard. The OECD released in July 2014 the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters, calling on governments of all jurisdictions to obtain relevant financial account information from their financial institutions and exchange that information automatically with jurisdictions of residence of account holders, and where relevant, controlling persons on an annual basis. For the meaning of “controlling persons”, please refer to the definition of “controlling person” under Section 50A(1) of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112)(“IRO”).
As a responsible international citizen and a leading financial center, Hong Kong indicated in September 2014 our commitment to implement AEOI and commence the first information exchanges by the end of 2018. To deliver the commitment, Hong Kong commenced the first exchanges in September 2018.
The Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 3) Ordinance 2016, which commenced operation on 30 June 2016, has put in place a legislative framework for Hong Kong to implement AEOI. Subsequently, further amendments were made to the AEOI legal framework under the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 2017, the Inland Revenue (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 and the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 2019. The above Amendment Ordinances are collectively referred to as “the AEOI legislation”.
In particular, the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 2019 removed Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes registered under the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (Cap. 485) (“MPF schemes”) and Occupational Retirement Schemes registered under the Occupational Retirement Schemes Ordinance (Cap.426) (“ORSO registered schemes”) from the list of non-reporting financial institutions (thereby rendering such schemes reporting financial institutions with regard to AEOI); and increased the number of reportable jurisdictions from the current 75 to 126 with effect from 1 January 2020.
According to the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 2019, MPF schemes and ORSO registered schemes will become reporting financial institutions (“Reporting FIs”) with effect from 1 January 2020. Starting from that date, Retirement Schemes are required to comply with the due diligence and reporting obligations relating to AEOI. If members and/or employers of the Retirement Schemes concerned are tax residents of the reportable jurisdictions, such Retirement Schemes will need to report in 2021 for the first time to the IRD the financial account information of the relevant persons, covering the year 2020, for transmission to the competent authorities of the AEOI partner jurisdiction.