Balancing the taxpayer's right to privacy against the automatic exchange of information

De Koker, Alon David
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Since 2009, a primary objective of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been to increase global tax transparency in order to combat tax evasion. According to the OECD, the removal of bank secrecy restrictions and the implementation of the Automatic Exchange of Information standard, which allows participating jurisdictions to access information on the foreign financial accounts of their residents, is necessary to reduce tax evasion. The Automatic Exchange of Information, however, is argued to be excessive in the information that is required to be exchanged. This research report examines and analyses the constitutional issues that are raised with regard to the current practice of the Automatic Exchange of Information. The current policy framework of the Automatic Exchange of Information is critically assessed with particular reference to the taxpayer’s constitutional right to privacy. This research report considers whether the Automatic Exchange of Information infringes upon the taxpayer’s right to privacy and if so whether the infringement is reasonable and justifiable in an open democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom. It is submitted that no right granted by the Constitution is absolute and therefore a limitations analysis must be performed in order to ascertain whether there is an appropriate constitutional balance between the right to privacy and the Automatic Exchange of Information
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Commerce (specialising in Taxation), 2020