The territory is finalising negotiations with the United States and United Kingdom governments on information-sharing agreements that could make life easier for Virgin Islands financial services businesses ahead of impending tax law changes in those countries, Premier Dr. Orlando Smith said last Thursday. The US’ Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act and its yet-to-be-named counterpart in the UK will require “foreign financial institutions,” — including VI banks and trust companies — to remit information to the UK and US governments about account holders with ties to those countries. Firms that don’t do so can have a portion of their funds withheld under the new laws. Dr. Smith said previously that agreements between the governments and the VI are preferred because they are simpler than the US and the UK dealing directly with the individual firms. Studies of the laws’ potential effects have been commissioned and will soon be laid on the table of the House of Assembly, he said. Additionally, Dr. Smith announced that he would like to form a standing select committee made of HOA members to study and improve the territory’s financial services industry. “I am hoping that I will receive full non-partisan support for this initiative,” he said.
Statistics haven’t been finalised, but anecdotes suggest that the 2012-2013 high tourism season has been one of the territory’s best since the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Dr. Smith said last Thursday. “All indications are that March was a very busy month, potentially one of the busiest in many years, and that April is following suit,” Dr. Smith told the House of Assembly.