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LINKS IN THIS SECTION

- Executive Summary
- Introduction: The Scope of E-commerce Legislation and Regulation
- Supranational Regulation: the EU, the OECD and other bodies
- The E-commerce Laws in High-Tax Countries and Offshore Jurisdictions

RELATED SECTIONS

- Taxation of Offshore E-commerce
- Offshore E-commerce Facilities
- Offshore Professional and Financial Services
- Offshore E-commerce Applications

The general attitude of international organisations, exemplified by the EU and OECD, has been to be supportive and helpful towards the development of electronic commerce. However were are less impressed by the migration of e-commerce towards offshore jurisdictions, which is nomally driven at least partly by a desire to minmise taxation.

The low tax countries argued that tax competition is healthy and forces countries to become more efficient, and the high tax countries countered by arguing that low-tax jurisdictions engage in 'unfair' or 'harmful' tax competition which causes illegitimate losses of tax revenue and obliges high-tax countries to reduce services to their needy populations.

The rich countries' moves to hinder the - then - future theat posed by offshore e-commerce were inseparable from the major campaign they began to wage against offshore during 1999 and 2000. At first these anti-offshore moves were simply directed against 'offshore' as such, but increasingly the rhetoric began to focus on offshore e-commerce, as businesses and tax collectors woke up to the potential for offshore e-commerce.

The rich countries' campaign took tangible form in 2000 with the publication of three 'lists' of offshore jurisdictions which offended in various ways against global orthodoxy:

  • The G7's Financial Stability Forum (FSF), set up after the Asian 'melt-down' in 1997/98, created a list of countries it considered to represent a threat to financial stability;
  • The OECD's Financial Action Task Force (FATF), set up at the behest of the G7, listed countries which it deemed to have inadequate controls against money-laundering;
  • The OECD itself issued a list of countries offering 'unfair' tax competition; in addition,
  • The EU's 'Code of Conduct' committee issued a list of 'harmful' tax practices in member states and their offshore dependencies.

Led by the US, the member countries of the G7 backed up the lists by issuing 'advisories' against the countries on the FSF list which called upon financial institutions to exercise great care in undertaking transactions with the listed countries.

The offshore jurisdictions themselves characterised the behaviour of the rich countries as 'bullying', 'unfair' and hypocritical, since there are plenty of tax breaks available onshore as well as offshore.

The lists prompted howls of protest from the named jurisdictions, but faced with the threat of sanctions, and possibly worse, bad publicity, many of them sought to mend fences with the rich countries by adjusting tax practices and introducing new legislation.

REGULATION OF OFFSHORE E-COMMERCE

- Executive Summary - A quick overview of major developments in national and international regulation of E-commerce with special reference to offshore e-commerce.
- Introduction: The Scope of E-commerce Legislation and Regulation - A review of the range of laws impacting the conduct of onshore and offshore e-commerce.
- Supranational Regulation: the EU, the OECD and other bodies - International initiatives to regulate e-commerce and offshore e-commerce; anti-offshore initiatives.
- The E-commerce Laws in High-Tax Countries and Offshore Jurisdictions - The laws passed in 'high-tax' countries and links to descriptions of the legislative situation in each offshore jurisdiction.


 

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