Significant progress has been made by an international program designed to enhance developing countries' ability to bolster domestic revenue collection through strengthening of tax audit capacities.
The Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) project was launched in July 2015 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as an innovative attempt to address widespread tax avoidance by multinational enterprises in developing countries and as a contribution towards financing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
TIWB organizes deployment of highly qualified tax experts to countries that request assistance with ongoing audits of multinational companies. The projects focus on revenue recovery and improving local audit capacity while sending a strong message on the need for tax compliance.
Eight pilot projects – in countries spanning the globe from Africa to Asia and Latin America – have resulted in more than $260 million in additional tax revenues to date. This includes more than $100 million in new tax revenues generated through TIWB audits in Zimbabwe, demonstrating the tremendous potential for future projects.
Thirteen projects are underway worldwide, in Botswana, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
A range of new programs will launch in the coming year – including new deployments of auditors to Republic of Congo, Egypt, Uganda, Cameroon and Vietnam - toward the goal of 100+ deployments by 2020. This will also include the first South-South co-operation project under the TIWB initiative, which will see Kenyan auditors deployed to Botswana in 2017.
"Developing countries face serious challenges in raising domestic resources to fund basic government services, and tax avoidance by multinational enterprises is a complicating factor," said James Karanja, head of the TIWB Secretariat.
"The Tax Inspectors Without Borders program is demonstrating how effective capacity building can make a difference toward the goal of ensuring that all companies pay their fair share of tax."
TIWB projects are currently being supported by a range of organisations, including revenue authorities in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, the African Tax Administration Forum and the Paris-based TIWB Secretariat, which facilitates full-time or periodic deployment of experts for all programmes.
To better fulfil its clearinghouse role – matching demands for auditing assistance with appropriate experts – and to meet growing demand for TIWB projects, the Secretariat is expanding its roster of available experts. Information on candidacies is available here.