Co-operative Compliance: A Framework

Co-operative Compliance: A Framework

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Auteur(s):
OCDE
Date de publication :
29 jui 2013
Pages :
106
ISBN :
9789264200852 (PDF) ; 9789264200845 (imprimé)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264200852-en

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This report examines the relationship between large business taxpayers and revenue bodies, five years on from the publication of the FTA’s Study into the Role of Tax Intermediaries. The study recommended that revenue bodies develop a relationship based on trust and co-operation. The report is based on a detailed examination of the practical experiences of countries that have established this type of relationship.

The report finds that the pillars of an improved relationship highlighted in the Study remain valid. However, it identifies some additional features that are equally important: the part played by the tax control framework used by a large business in providing an objective basis for trust is emphasised. It also suggests that "co-operative compliance" is a better description of the recommended approach than the original "enhanced relationship" label.
 
The report addresses some questions that have been raised about the compatibility of the new approach with certain legal principles and discusses the internal governance of these programmes within revenue bodies. The importance of making a sound business case for the approach and how to measure the results of co-operative compliance programmes is addressed. The report concludes with some thoughts about the future direction of the co-operative compliance concept.

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    Foreword

    This report has been prepared to take stock of developments in the application of the concept of co-operative compliance and the changes that have taken place in the business and economic environment five years on from the publication of the Forum on Tax Administration study "Study into the Role of Tax Intermediaries". This report addresses past and current experiences and it is dedicated to evaluating the co-operative compliance approach and how revenue bodies assess its contribution to the delivery of compliance outcomes.

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    Preface

    This report is published at a time when tax compliance by large business is the subject of intense scrutiny. The OECD report Addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting calls on tax administrations to take immediate action to improve tax compliance.

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    Executive summary

    In 2008 the Forum on Tax Administration published a Study into the Role of Tax Intermediaries (the 2008 Study) which encouraged revenue bodies to establish a relationship with large business taxpayers based on trust and co-operation; the so-called "enhanced relationship". This report is based on a detailed study of the practical experiences of countries that have developed co-operative compliance programmes and the views of the business community. The report thoroughly reviews and updates the FTA’s thinking about the relationship between revenue bodies and large business taxpayers in the light of these findings.

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    Introduction

    In 2008 the FTA published the Study into the Role of Tax Intermediaries. This 2008 Study addressed the topic of aggressive tax planning and analysed the tripartite relationship between revenue bodies, taxpayers and tax intermediaries. The report concluded that there was significant scope to influence the "demand side" of aggressive tax planning arrangements in relation to large corporate taxpayers. These taxpayers and revenue bodies were encouraged to engage in a relationship based on co-operation and trust. The 2008 Study spelt out how more co-operative relationships between taxpayers and revenue bodies could be established.

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    The current state of play

    The 2008 Study identified seven pillars as central to the establishment of a more co-operative relationship between taxpayers and revenue bodies. These are understandings based on commercial awareness, impartiality, proportionality, openness through disclosure and transparency and responsiveness by revenue bodies and disclosure and transparency by taxpayers in their dealings with revenue bodies. Countries that have initiated co-operative compliance programmes have found these pillars to be valid and that it is particularly important that the revenue body demonstrates impartiality and responsiveness.

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    Co-operative compliance: Key issues

    In the period since the 2008 Study was published, four key issues or concerns about co-operative compliance have emerged. In this chapter we explore each of them in more detail.

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    The importance of the Tax Control Framework

    The OECD has worked for many years on developing standards and tools for a stronger, cleaner and fairer economy. The MNE Guidelines are one of these standards.1 The MNE Guidelines are a voluntary set of principles and standards for responsible business conduct. The revised MNE Guidelines were adopted by the 42 adhering governments on 25 May 2011 at the OECD’s 50th Anniversary Ministerial Meeting.

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    Internal governance of co-operative compliance programmes within revenue bodies

    Since the publication of the 2008 Study some commentators have questioned whether relationships based on the principles of co-operative compliance could affect the impartiality of the tax officials involved. Internal Governance arrangements are key for all revenue bodies that have introduced a Co-operative Compliance Programme. Within these programmes large taxpayers and revenue bodies base their relationship on mutual transparency, understanding and justified trust. This means that tax officials are expected to combine two roles: they are expected to maintain an open relationship with the taxpayer but they are also required to remain impartial and professional and to retain a critical attitude towards the taxpayer and the information and tax risks it discloses. The maintenance of taxpayer confidentiality is an important aspect of building trust and helps taxpayers share information more freely with the revenue body. At the same time it can be seen as an obstacle to the process of providing assurance to external stakeholders about the impartiality of the revenue body. Failure to maintain a professional critical attitude could have damaging effect on overall confidence in revenue bodies.

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    Evaluating the value of co-operative compliance

    A revenue body has a responsibility to ensure it manages its compliance risks in a costefficient and effective way. New strategies or new instruments as part of a sound compliance risk management system must contribute to the strategic goals of the organisation (effectiveness) against the lowest possible costs (efficiency). In addition society will require the revenue body to be able to demonstrate how any new strategy or instrument adds value to the public asset that is the tax system. In the specific case of the co-operative compliance model this entails both making visible how the model operates in practice and how it contributes to a higher level of compliance and a higher level of assurance that the correct tax is being paid and that there is a consequent decrease in the tax gap.

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    Conclusions, recommendations and next steps
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