Debate on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance agreement with the US (Fatca) bill will resume in Parliament soon, Finance Minister Colm Imbert says.
Yesterday, Imbert assured the controversial legislation–which facilitates US dealings with local financial entities on US citizens' accounts–would be presented next month.
"The precise date hasn't yet been finalised," Imbert said.
Parliament, on a break, resumes this Friday. Parliament officials said focus will be on other matters–not Fatca.
Following the 2017 budget, Government placed the Fatca Bill high on the Parliament's agenda.
Yesterday, UNC MP Dr Bhoe Tewarie said the Opposition has amendments for the legislation.
He added the US' recent Donald Trump Presidential win and implications of that for the legislation, must be factored into debate.
"Given the likely position of the Trump aspect, I don't know where this Fatca legislation in the US is going to lead," Tewarie said.
"So reality demands we take this into consideration, even as we move diligently to ensure T&T and financial institutions are secured and security interests concerning finances are also managed.
"For instance we may have Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Caribbean FATF considerations regarding Fatca."
The proposed T&T law pertains to the US' Fatca agreement centred on US tax law to combat offshore tax evasion by US citizens with accounts and/or investments with foreign and non-financial entities.
The law enables all local institutions to identify and report to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on the accounts of US clients.
All banks will have to report clients with more than US$50,000 to the IRS.
Failure to comply with Fatca would mean all financial institutions and US citizens will be subject to a withholding tax of 30 per cent applied to all US-sourced income.
The legislation was urgent since lack of passage would have failed to implement the agreement and T&T's banking sector and online financial transactions with the US would have halted, affecting the economy and T&T's diplomatic relations with the US.
Agreement in principle was reached on the issue during the past PP Government's tenure
The current PNM Government had hoped to finalise it by September. The bill requires a special majority, including at least three Opposition votes for passage.
But parliamentary debate in September time failed since the Opposition UNC expressed concerns about invasion of rights and other aspects of the issue.
The Opposition stated it appreciated the legislation's importance and T&T's international obligations and pledged to support it–but raised specific concerns.
The Opposition recommended scrutiny by a Joint Select Committee.
Imbert had said the Government would seek an extension of time from the US to comply with Fatca.
He pledged to resume debate after the 2017 budget debate, assuring the JSC would be established.
The Government had informed the US of the situation.
Imbert said the US Treasury stated since T&T had signed the agreement, showed resolve to comply and enact legislation, and submitted an action plan for Fatca compliance, T&T is now considered to have an agreement "in effect" with the US.
He stressed the US made it clear T&T will be monitored into 2017 and if progress isn't made to achieve full compliance by the next (2017) reporting deadline, T&T would be blacklisted.
US Ambassador John Estrada has also appealed to the Government to pass the law by February 2017.