2. Responsibilities and collection

The primary purpose of a tax administration is the collection of tax revenue to fund public services, but over time, as previous editions of this series have highlighted, many tax administrations have also been tasked with other responsibilities. This chapter provides an overview of the net tax revenues collected as well as some other key figures related to tax administration performance, and looks at the wider role tax administrations are playing in driving change across the whole of government.

Confidence in the proven ability of tax administrations to deliver complex administrative processes on a large scale was undoubtedly a key driver behind many governments giving their tax administrations additional responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapter 2 of Tax Administration 2021 (OECD, 2021[1]) has a more detailed overview of the wider roles that tax administrations took on during the pandemic.

With many jurisdictions now considering the post-pandemic environment, they are reflecting and learning on the ways of working that were needed to deliver the rapid taxpayer support schemes that governments tasked them with. Many report that the pandemic working practices they adopted are now being used in business-as-usual practices, leading to longer-term shifts in the way they manage their business.

The information from the survey analysed for this chapter is showing how revenue collections recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following declining revenue collections between 2019 and 2020 across a large majority of jurisdictions, revenue collections have increased between 2020 and 2021 in almost all jurisdictions covered in this edition (see Table 2.1.).

The data also shows that this increase in revenue collections is quite significant (+17.2% on average, see Table 2.1.), hinting at a substantial recovery of economic activity following the COVID-19 related lockdown measures introduced by many governments and the forced closure of many businesses which negatively affected their taxable income and sales.

With few exceptions, jurisdictions have unified the collection of direct and (most) indirect taxes within a single body for tax administration. More detail on institutional arrangements can be found in Chapter 4.2.1. in the 2019 edition of the Tax Administration Series (TAS). (OECD, 2019[2])

Table 2.2. summarises for which revenue types the tax administrations participating in this publication have responsibility. In addition, as found in previous editions of the TAS (for example, Chapter 2.2. in TAS 2019), governments have given tax administrations other areas of responsibility (including shared responsibility in some areas) in addition to their traditional tax roles.

Typically, these may be to provide financial benefits to taxpayers (for example, welfare-type benefits) or to collect loans or debts owing to government (for example, student loans or child support). In other situations, the role/function is less directly related to the tax system, for example oversight of certain gambling activities or population registries. (OECD, 2019[2])

This section looks at the net revenue collection of tax administrations as well as a number of other key figures related to their activities.

Through its Global Revenue Statistics Database (OECD, 2023[3]) the OECD generally seeks to publish internationally comparable data on the tax revenues of its members as well as a number of other jurisdictions for all levels of government. As the information contained in the Global Revenue Statistics Database reports data at a jurisdiction and not an administration level, tax administrations were asked in the ISORA survey to provide a range of information on their revenue collection activity. This information aptly demonstrates the importance of ISORA participating tax administrations to the respective economies.

Net revenue collected by tax administrations participating in this report, as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021 ranges from less than 10% to reach more than 40% in the case of Denmark and Sweden. Average net revenue collected by administrations in this report is 21% of GDP (see Figure 2.1.).

Forty tax administrations report net revenue collections exceeding more than 50% of total government revenue in 2021, making tax administrations the principle government revenue collection agency in more than two-thirds of jurisdictions covered in this report. Average net revenue collected by administrations in this report is 61% of total jurisdiction revenue (see Figure 2.2.)

Value added tax and personal income tax account for 30% and 26% of net revenue collections, respectively, and are the two major tax types collected by around 40% of the tax administrations covered in this report. Corporate Income Tax (17%) and social security contributions (10%) comprise the other major revenue types as reflected in Figure 2.3. In many jurisdictions, social security contributions are not collected by tax administrations and are therefore underrepresented when looking at average net revenue collections for all jurisdictions covered in this publication. Where collected, they are often the predominant source of tax revenue collected by the tax administration (see Table D.4.).

Given the importance of these major taxes to overall collection rates, tax administrations are investing in new and innovative approaches to promote tax compliance and streamlining tax collections. As well as establishing new teams to focus on tackling non-compliance, they are also:

  • developing new taxpayer education initiatives (such as the innovative approaches from Brazil, Finland and India highlighted in Box 2.3.);

  • digitally transforming collection approaches (the example from Singapore in Box 2.3. illustrates how this can reshape services);

  • finding ways to reduce burdens for taxpayers; and

  • using sophisticated analytics to identify and prevent non-compliance.

These are frequent themes throughout this edition of the series, and they are covered in more detail in later chapters.

Withholding regimes can form part of compliance-by-design approaches which support overall compliance while significantly reducing burdens for large numbers of taxpayers depending on the extent of taxpayer involvement in any post-payment adjustments that might be needed (i.e. where withholding results in under-payment or over-payment of tax). In place of self-reporting and paying, withholding taxes are taxes paid directly to the tax administration, usually by a principal who pays the net income to the recipient (for example withholding by an employer on salary paid to an employee), or by an intermediary between the payer and customer. The most common withholding tax in operation globally is income tax on employment income (so called Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) approaches). Other examples include withholding taxes on interest, dividends or royalties. Depending on the underlying tax regime and nature of the payments, withholding can vary from a simple system, at a universal set rate, to a more complex system that is responsive to the customer’s wider circumstances.1

In addition to minimising burdens, withholding regimes can also reduce misreporting and underpayment as principals or intermediaries responsible for forwarding taxes to the administration have no right over the respective amounts. Of course, there remains scope for failures in such approaches by misapplication of rules or errors by principals or intermediaries where the system relies on them providing information. However, increased automation, greater cross-checking of data and whole of government approaches have the potential to reduce such issues.

To understand the importance of withholding at source for personal income taxes, the survey underlying this publication asked participating administrations to estimate the percentage of total personal income tax withheld by third parties and subsequently paid to the administration. Administrations that were able to provide this information estimate that around 80% of total personal income tax collections were withheld at source in 2021 (see Table 2.3.).


[3] OECD (2023), Global Revenue Statistics Database, https://www.oecd.org/tax/tax-policy/global-revenue-statistics-database.htm (accessed on 22 May 2023).

[1] OECD (2021), Tax Administration 2021: Comparative Information on OECD and other Advanced and Emerging Economies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/cef472b9-en.

[2] OECD (2019), Tax Administration 2019: Comparative Information on OECD and other Advanced and Emerging Economies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/74d162b6-en.


← 1. For further information on the withholding regimes put in place in jurisdictions, please see Tax Administration 2019 (OECD, 2019[2]), Tables A.73. and A.74.

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