Spotlights on the work of ATI members during the 2020 ATI General Assembly

At the 2020 ATI General Assembly, ATI members had the opportunity to share success stories and recent activities on domestic revenue mobilisation to enhance peer-learning and exchange good practices.

Full report

On the second day of the 2020 ATI General Assembly, ATI members were spotlighted to share some of their recent efforts towards enhancing domestic revenue mobilisation (DRM). Various partner countries, development partners and supporting organisations took the opportunity to present their success stories and ongoing work.

Odonchimeg Tsedenbal, Head of Tax Administration and International Tax Department of the Mongolian Tax Authority presented the 2015 VAT law reform, which introduced an incentive system of refund for registering receipts. The policy aims at reducing tax avoidance and ensuring that companies that crossed the VAT threshold comply with the payments. As a result of the reform, registration of documents doubled, and the number of VAT taxpayers has increased – reaching an all-time high 36 thousand in 2019.

Dr. Timo Voipio, Programme Director for Taxation for Development (T4D), from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, highlighted the role of progressive taxation and Finland’s goal to empower African partners to support the work on DRM and tackling illicit financial flows (IFFs). In this context, Dr. Voipio also shared the recently developed Taxation for Development Action Programme.

Mari Khurtsidze, Head of the International Taxation Division of the Tax Policy Department at the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, stressed the necessity for partner countries to consider the differences in tax treaty model (UN and OECD) and to select the one best in line with the country’s specific interests and needs. Ms. Khurtsidze further shared Georgia’s success of moving tax treaties negotiations to the virtual sphere, which ensures the continuity of the discussions and prevents the potential delay of procedures in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Paolo de Renzio, Senior Research Fellow at the International Budget Partnership shared a total of three projects. Firstly, the conclusions of a comprehensive literature review on the political economy of taxation, comprising tax reforms in low- and middle- income countries. Secondly a paper and a dataset resulting of a global scan of the work of 171 civil society organisations on tax across 66 countries. The data set shows that although organisations work both on international and domestic taxation, the latter is more fragmented. Lastly, Dr. de Renzio introduced some examples from an upcoming compilation of in-depth case studies on how civil society actors have engaged in tax reforms, such as the end of tax forgiveness programmes in Mexico, or Uganda’s reduction on mobile money transfer taxes.

Dwi Astuti, Directorator General of Taxes Indonesia and Wim Assink, from the International Bureau for Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) highlighted the successful cooperation between the Directorate General of Taxes in Indonesia, the IBFD and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Amongst others, they emphasised, that this cooperation has enabled in-house support such as training or consultancy. This will include Covid-19 response measures to tackle the negative impact of the pandemic on domestic taxes. The effects of the policies taken are currently being investigated and will be presented in December 2020.

Jeneba Bangura, Deputy Commissioner General at the National Revenue Authority of Sierra Leone shared successful practices in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Bangura stressed that African revenue authorities with high digital capacities and capabilities have been better in dealing with the pandemic. She highlighted the establishment of a dedicated email address to support large taxpayers returns and ensure their compliance, as well as the setting up of drop boxes for small and medium taxpayers. Additionally, further measures  such as debts audits, online planning, virtual trainings and reforms concerning the customs and domestic tax departments have been implemented in Sierra Leone to foster the country’s efforts towards sustainable revenue mobilisation and move towards a more digitalised system.

Raúl Zambrano, Director for Technical Assistance and Information Technology at the Inter-American Center of Tax Administrations (CIAT) presented the newly published book “ICT as a Strategic Tool to Leapfrog the Efficiency of Tax Administrations”. The publication on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) covers a set of chapters comprising tax administration processes and the technology used — including registry, payment processing, risk management or audits – as well as a second set of chapters dealing with IT processes, and a roadmap on how to implement information systems on tax administrations.

Nathan Coplin, Policy Advisor at Oxfam International shared some preliminary findings on a project on “How do we know we are on the right path?", that aims to assess the quality of DRM cooperation of ATI members, by analysing the elements of equity on DRM projects. The preliminary results show that 23% of the projects have components that are considered to contribute to equitable tax reform efforts. in addition, DRM support is increasingly channelled to multilateral organisations, while the amount of DRM support target to regional tax organisations has slightly decreased. To reverse this trend, he asked to localise country led DRM support. Previous work from Oxfam on the topic can be found in their website.

Lastly, Ibrahim Alubala, Advisor at Save the Children Kenya presented some recent achievements to help the engagement of counties’ governments in the generation of own resources. Save the Children Kenya has been able to domesticate the normative framework of DRM to engage local county governments in the topic, disentangled the information of tax proposals and policy documents to enhance civil society understanding as well as created room for exchange between taxpayers and county governments to raise problems and enabled negotiations. Finally, it has also developed a legal framework for county revenue legislation.

Thanks to the valuable contributions by ATI development partners, partner countries and supporting organisations, the 2020 ATI General Assembly served as an additional platform for exchanging success stories, facilitating discussions and encouraging peer learning.