(Dec. 8, 2009) The Legislative Assembly of the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China approved domestic legislation on rules and regulations governing the exchange of information on financial matters pursuant to international tax agreements, such as double taxation conventions and tax information exchange agreements, on August 11, 2009. The Law on the Exchange of Information on Fiscal Matters took effect on September 15. Adoption of the new Law is in furtherance of Macau's endorsement in 2005 of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's standards on transparency and information exchange. (Exchange of Information on Fiscal Matters [in Chinese and Portuguese], 34 OFFICIAL GAZETTE OF THE MACAU SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION 1389-1392 (Aug. 24, 2009), available at http://images.io.gov.mo/bo/i/2009/34/lei-20-2009.pdf; Lee Joo Fong, Macau SAR's Law on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters Effective, IBFD Tax News Service, Dec. 3, 2009, via e-mail from [email protected]; Lee Joo Fong, Macau SAR to Apply OECD Standards Regarding Administrative Assistance, TNS ONLINE, Mar. 24, 2009, IBFD online subscription database, TNS:2009-03-24:MO-1.)
Highlights of the Law, based on an English summary of the legislation posted on the Macau Financial Services Bureau (DSF) website, are as follows:
- The SAR's Chief Executive is authorized under the Law to request information from other tax jurisdictions and to provide or refuse to provide information to other tax jurisdictions that have completed the procedures for requests for tax information exchange.
- The DSF is the administrative organization authorized to receive and exchange the financial information, which includes all DSF data and information and “all the documents and records arising from the operations of any organizations that fall under the Financial System Act and the legal regime for offshore services.”
- Requests for information may be denied when: (a) the principle of reciprocity has been violated; (b) the required information may result in the disclosure of state [i.e., China's] secrets, SAR secrets, and other commercial or professional secrets; or (c) “the exchange will infringe on interpersonal trust or the code of conduct in certain professions such as lawyers.”
- Rules on operational procedures for information exchange are specified; failure to abide by them may constitute the crime of aggravated breach under article 312, number 2, of the Penal Code.
- Confidentiality of information and the right of the interested party to verify the content of the information exchanged are to be observed, except when: (a) a tax jurisdiction involved declares that the interested party is not to be notified of the exchange or (b) “the exchange of information is for the protection of vital public interest.”
- An interested party, to protect the party's self-interest, may file an appeal with the court to cause suspension of a mutual exchange of information, on the ground that there are errors in the collection and subsequent transmission of the information.
(Information Exchange on Tax Matters [summary in English], DSF website http://www.dsf.gov.mo/Proc_Legi/inf_exch_tax_matter/e_inf_exch_tax_matte
r.pdf (last visited Dec. 7, 2009).)