The OECD and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a new initiative to help developing countries bolster domestic revenues by strengthening their tax audit capacities.
The Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) project was welcomed by stakeholders from business, civil society, as well as OECD and developing country governments attending the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa. They said the initiative will help countries to mobilise much-needed domestic revenues in support of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
TIWB will facilitate targeted tax audit assistance in developing countries worldwide. Tax audit experts will work alongside local officials of developing country tax administrations to help strengthen tax audit capacities, including issues concerning international tax matters.
A number of pilot projects and international tax workshops are already underway, including in Albania, Ghana and Senegal. Evidence gathered from real time cases in Colombia indicate a significant increase in tax revenue, from USD 3.3 million in 2011 to USD 33.2 million in 2014, thanks to tax audit advice and guidance.
“The challenges faced by developing countries are being acknowledged internationally and we are delighted to mobilise the best experts worldwide in a practical contribution to domestic resource mobilisation,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said during a launch event in Addis Ababa. “The new partnership between the OECD and UNDP on Tax Inspectors Without Borders will significantly extend the global reach of existing efforts to build audit capacity while sending a strong message of international support to developing countries.”
“Effective domestic resource mobilisation is at the core of financing for sustainable development. But efforts to raise domestic resources are often constrained by tax evasion and avoidance, and by illicit financial flows,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.
“The Tax Inspectors Without Borders programme is an innovative and practical way of supporting developing countries to mobilise more domestic resources for development. With its country level presence and local knowledge, UNDP is well-placed to partner with the OECD and the best audit experts to scale-up this important work. TIWB can support countries to realise the post-2015 agenda,” Helen Clark said.
Going forward, a dedicated central organising unit, the TIWB Secretariat, supported by an oversight board of stakeholders, will operate as a clearing house to match the demand for auditing assistance with appropriate expertise. The Secretariat, composed of OECD and UNDP staff and based at the OECD in Paris, will facilitate full-time or periodic deployment of experts.