Tax Inspectors Without Borders: supporting developing countries to increase tax revenues despite COVID-19 challenges
28/09/2020 - The international community continues to make progress towards strengthening developing countries' ability to effectively tax multinational enterprises, despite the adverse impact of the COVID-19 crisis on domestic resource mobilisation efforts.
Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), a joint OECD/UNDP initiative launched in July 2015 to strengthen developing countries' auditing capacity and multinationals' compliance worldwide, has gained increased relevance in the COVID-19 era as a practical tool to help developing countries collect all the taxes due from multinational enterprises. To-date, TIWB assistance has delivered more than USD 537 million in additional revenue for developing countries up to June 2020, according to its latest annual report.
The report was presented today by OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, and United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Achim Steiner, during a ministerial panel discussion in the margins of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting was co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, the OECD and UNDP.
With programmes across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the TIWB initiative has 80 completed and ongoing programmes in 45 countries and jurisdictions worldwide. An additional 19 programmes have been requested and are in the pipeline. The report notes strong support from a broad range of partners, including regional and international organisations, as well as key donors of official development assistance (ODA). Sixteen countries have deployed their serving tax officials to provide hands-on, learning-by-doing assistance to auditors in developing countries. Among the partner administrations are those engaged in South-South co-operation including India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa.
The success of the current TIWB model has also triggered the expansion of the initiative on tax crime investigations and the use of information exchanged automatically between governments, both of which will help fight Illicit Financial Flows. New programmes will also cover tax treaty negotiations, the extractives and environmental tax issues.
"Despite the constraints that the COVID-19 crisis has imposed, the TIWB initiative remains fully 'open for business' thanks to measures instituted to support experts in continuing to deliver assistance remotely," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. "Not only are we open, but we are extending the TIWB focus to provide support in other areas of taxation to fight against corruption and promote integrity."
"Tax Inspectors Without Borders is playing a key role in helping developing countries to recover from the pandemic - their new service aims at increasing domestic revenues while supporting the transition to greener, more sustainable economies," said Mr Steiner, UNDP Administrator.
In his address to the meeting, H.E. Ville Skinnari, Finland's Minister for Development Co-operation and Foreign Trade, said "I congratulate UNDP, OECD and the wider UN-system to promote tax justice and domestic resource mobilisation. We have done our homework in Finland, too: In June this year we launched Government of Finland's new Taxation for Development Action Programme."
To lead TIWB into this new phase of expansion, the Former Vice Minister of Finance of Georgia, Ms. Rusudan Kemularia, has been appointed Head of the TIWB Secretariat. Prior to joining the OECD, Ms. Kemularia also worked as a Rector of the Finance Academy, Head of the Legal and Financial Policy Departments, Secretary to the Parliament, and Co-Chair of the Tax Dispute Resolution Counsel from 2008-2019 in Georgia.
- Watch the TIWB ministerial panel discussion on 'Supporting Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond Through the Tax Inspectors Without Borders Initiative'
- Access the TIWB Annual Report 2020