4 November 2022 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) participated in two multilateral meetings in the current week to cement international tax co-operation in Africa and among the BRICS Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
In line with our Strategic Objective 8-working with stakeholders and Strategic Objective 9-building public confidence and trust, SARS has been progressively working to rebuild our international partnerships with key organizations such as OECD, Global Forum on Tax Transparency, ATAF, WCO, SADC, SACU, United Nations and the IMF as well as bilaterally with other Tax and Customs administrations. SARS actively participates and contributes constructively at these forums as was evident again during the past week.
The first meeting was the hybrid 7th Annual General Assembly of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) in Lagos, Nigeria, from 31 October to 3 November 2022. This was followed by the virtual meetings of BRICS, hosted by the State Taxation Administration (STA) of China as the current BRICS Chair. This comprised of the BRICS Tax Experts and Heads of Tax Authorities on 2 and 3 November 2022.
During the 7th Biannual ATAF General Assembly, Togo and South Africa were re-elected as Chair and Vice Chair of ATAF, respectively. The other Council members elected for a two-year term were Nigeria, Rwanda, Botswana, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, The Gambia and Morocco. The Council provides strategic guidance and leadership to the work of the ATAF Secretariat. ATAF also celebrated the admission of its 41st member, South Sudan.
The theme of the 7th General Assembly, Rethinking Revenue Strategies: The Human Face of Taxation hybrid event saw more than 500 attendees representing 33 tax administrations and 15 partner organizations. The meeting discussed various tax-related issues, including the importance of Domestic Resource Mobilization to development financing, technology and human capital, the Two-Pillar Solution aimed at addressing the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy, reforms to enhance fiscal resource mobilization, the maximization of natural resource rents, as well as curbing illicit financial flows.
Another highlight of the meeting was the launch of the Handbook on the Future of Resources Taxation. Ten ideas are put forward in this handbook on how the current system of mining taxation could be improved and resource-rich countries could maximize returns from mineral wealth.
Commissioner Edward Kieswetter set the scene during his presentation on the subject of Tax and Technology – Human Centered Socially Responsible Automation. In his address the Commissioner highlighted the progress made in building a SMART Modern SARS.
He furthermore emphasized the importance of humanization and reminded the audience, “that the smarts that we employ in our tax administrations, the technology and data that we deploy, ultimately are about people. It is about the citizens that we serve. It is about the taxpayers whose contributions we honour and it is about our employees who make all of this possible”.
For more information on the meeting, refer to www.ataftax.org.
This was the 10th year the BRICS Tax Authorities met and the first year in which regional and international organisations participated in the BRICS conversation.
The highlight of the Heads of Tax Authorities meeting was the endorsement to launch the first issue of the BRICS Tax Best Practices compilation, a collection of insightful administration case studies from BRICS Tax Authorities.
The case studies showcase some of the BRICS members’ best practices in Cooperative Compliance Program of CONFIA, New Tax Debt Management Strategy, the Effective Use of AEOI Data—CRS Tool, Faceless Tax Administration, AIS and Updating of Returns, Smart Individual Income Tax (IIT) Reconciliation, Tax Awareness Month, Coordination of Tax and Customs Pricing for Imported Goods as well as Taxpayer Compliance Evaluation and Monitoring.
South Africa will assume the Chairmanship of BRICS at the beginning of 2023 and will subsequently host the BRICS Tax meetings in 2023.
“International cooperation is crucial in enabling SARS to deliver on is mandate. Working with and through stakeholders to improve the tax system is implicit in our strategic direction. We endeavour to have effective and beneficial partnerships with all stakeholders, both local and international, in the tax ecosystem that deliver maximum benefits for the taxpayers and traders, government and the public. We leverage each other’s strengths to resolve tax administration challenges and improve voluntary tax compliance”, said Commissioner Kieswetter.
Next week, in Spain, the Global Forum on Tax Transparency including the African Initiative convened to discuss progress made towards the commitment to tackle tax evasion through multilateral cooperation and exchange of information (EOI). Given the strategic importance of exchange of information for SARS, Commissioner Kieswetter would be in attendance to deepen cooperation with our treaty partners with respect to the exchange of information and mutual assistance.
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