In 2017, the Bahamas Ministry of Finance (MOF) undertook a project to update its submission processes, remove the manual effort and ensure compliance. It needed to upgrade its FATCA reporting and introduce a CRS reporting element.

After a rigorous tender process, the Bahamas MOF chose Vizor to support them through the process.

The challenge

The Bahamas MOF has transmitted FATCA filings since 2015. The system permitted the submission of files in either Excel or the IRS required XML format. The process was somewhat manual and required technical intervention to upload and transfer files to the IRS’ International Data Exchange Service. While the process had improved over time and was convenient for Financial Institutions (FIs) that might struggle with XML files, the Competent Authority was still responsible for automated Excel to XML file format conversion.

FIs who had experience using Vizor’s portal for other jurisdictions also made requests for a more intuitive interface. Smaller filers with fewer clients were looking for a simple web form instead of the requirement to produce Excel or fully formatted XML files.

In 2017 the Competent Authority went to market, looking for a system that could meet both the existing FATCA needs and the requirement to make Common Reporting Standard (CRS) exchanges the following year.

The strength of any provider is tested when an issue arises. We were pleased that Vizor recognised the importance of the project to The Bahamas and committed all resources needed to resolve any issues that arose. This focus and expertise ensured a smooth implementation and a successful project.

Catherine Gibson, Ministry of Finance, The Bahamas.

The solution

The Bahamas MOF now uses the Vizor AEOI solution for both CRS and FATCA. The project plan was flexible enough to accommodate the availability of key Competent Authority personnel and ensure it met timeline commitments to the industry.

The Competent Authority received extensive in-person and online training, as part of the knowledge transfer process.

Financial Institutions with low volumes of filings now have the option to use intuitive web forms and are not required to prepare XML files.

The benefits

Meet exchange of information obligations
The Bahamas MOF now meets its CRS reporting obligation for the automatic exchange of information. The first successful transmission of high-quality data was completed with 35 partner jurisdictions. FATCA submissions were also successfully completed using the same integrated AEOI solution. The Competent Authority team is now able to handle exchanges on their own, without the need for technical support.

Reduction of manual processes and increased automation
The AEOI team were delighted with the level of automation. In the older system, there was a need for manual conversion of files which meant some intermediate responsibility for the quality of the data. The new system ensures all validation is done as part of the submission process and conversion happens automatically, without any need for manual intervention. Similarly, process changes have made registration more streamlined and efficient.

Compliance tracking
The system provides filing summary information that assists the Competent Authority with compliance tracking. It allows staff to review all entities that are registered and those where reporting has been completed. Similar summary information is also available to Financial Institutions to support their internal controls.

Part of worldwide peer community
The Bahamas MOF now benefits from being part of our user community that includes more than 19 tax authorities worldwide. They can draw on our experience and make direct connections with other Competent Authority users as needed. As with any standard, there are always questions around practical implementation scenarios. When these are addressed for one user, they can be shared with the whole community.

Find out how you can maximise revenue collection and manage exchange of information, request a demo.

   
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