On November 10, 2011, The World Bank Group adopted a new policy governing the use of offshore financial centers in its private sector operations and confirming its commitment to supporting countries through technical assistance. The new policy promotes tax transparency using international standards established by the Global Forum on Transparency and the Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (“Global Forum”). The Global Forum currently has over 100 member countries who have committed to these standards and have agreed to undergo substantive peer reviews by other members of the Global Forum. The results of the reviews allow countries to identify areas for further improvement.
The Investment Climate Department of the World Bank Group will play an important role in the implementation of this policy and in the World Bank Group’s tax transparency initiative by providing technical assistance and advice to countries requesting help to improve the transparency of their tax systems. This would include specific assistance to help them address areas for improvement identified during the Global Forum’s review process.
“The World Bank Group’s investment climate tax transparency program will play an important role by contributing to the global agenda of curbing tax evasion and improving monitoring of the flow of funds. The technical assistance provided will significantly contribute to assisting developing countries achieve higher levels of tax transparency.” said Pascal Saint-Amans, Head of the Secretariat for the Global Forum on Transparency and the Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
Earlier this month in Cannes, the G20 reaffirmed the importance of prioritizing the link between strong tax regimes, fostering tax transparency in developing countries and development.
The objective of the Investment Climate department’s tax transparency advisory program is to assist developing countries improve their ability to enforce their domestic tax systems and potentially increase revenue collection. Areas of focus for the program include:
- Reforming tax legal and regulatory frameworks
- Streamlining and establishing tax administrative procedures
- Establishing transfer pricing frameworks
- Strengthening accounting standards and reporting obligations
- Helping countries meet their exchange of information obligations as set out in international agreements
- Plus: A strong learning component for tax practitioners through guidebooks on issues like transfer pricing, peer-to-peer learning through regional practitioners network workshops and training.
The tax transparency initiative is being implemented in partnership with the IMF, regional development banks, and other relevant stakeholders including the OECD, the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation, and the European Commission.
The Investment Climate Department is already seeing strong demand with advisory support already being provided to Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Botswana and Thailand and requests for assistance from several other countries. Tax transparency trainings have also been held in Latin American and the Caribbean, Africa and East Asia and the Pacific with tax practitioners from over 60 countries attending.