Among the Goals for Sustainable Development -ODS- included in the Agenda 2030, ensuring public access to information is highlighted. In most countries in the region, laws on transparency and access to public information have been approved. However, despite these efforts, corruption remains one of the main concerns of the citizens in our neighboring countries.
In this context, we must ask what tax administrations have done and what they should do, as fundamental pillars of state action to advance the fight against corruption and the effective implementation of policies of transparency and promotion of institutional ethics.
Promoting transparency is a key to allow taxpayers, businesses and citizens in general a voice for building a modern, effective and efficient tax administration; it contributes to greater acceptance of its performance and thus to better compliance with tax obligations and less temptation to resort to tax fraud.
There are many reasons justifying why society in general should know what is happening in public governance, especially as regards the management of tax administration, given that this increased knowledge will be reflected in the level and quality of compliance with tax obligations. In addition, the tax administration cannot be excluded from the society it is part of and that it serves. For this reason, new forms of participation should be developed, that enable citizens to express their views on the services they receive, provide the citizen with institutional information on the objectives and results of the management and submit to the existing controls established through their representative bodies.
The ethical and transparent performance of the tax administration, with different profiles and implications, has been given special attention by CIAT over its 50 years of existence. It is interesting to remember that the first institutional declaration in the history of CIAT took place in the General Assembly held in Santo Domingo in 1996. It precisely contains “Minimum Necessary Attributes for a sound and effective tax administration” which clearly stresses the need for “an administration that ensure fair, reliable and transparent application of tax policies and laws, access, reliable service and consultation with taxpayers”.
Along with the efforts of CIAT, we must highlight the work of international organizations such as the IMF or the World Customs Organization. They have developed tools to assess the ethical and transparent performance of administrations, such as TADAT, or instruments to measure and obtain data, such as ISORA, or Guidelines for implementing policies of transparency, good governance and ethical behavior. Similarly, the knowledge of international best practices in this area will help the CIAT member countries tax administrations to consolidate these policies with the highest standards of quality and effectiveness.
All this can be found in the document prepared by the CIAT Standing Committee on Ethics CIAT on “Transparency and Accountability, which was presented at the CIAT 52nd General Assembly, which accompanies a survey for member countries and constitutes an authentic checklist of matters that must be addressed when it comes to implementing policies of transparency in tax administration.
 The group was composed of Rosa da Conceicao (Receita Federal do Brasil) Maria Teresa Missionario (Tax Authority of Portugal, Vera Sijven (Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands) and Juan F. Redondo (Representation of Spain before CIAT).
Download the document: “Survey on Transparency” (Spanish only)
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