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Belt And Road Forum Agrees Digital Tax Admin Agenda

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

04 October 2021

China has set out the priorities of the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism (BRITACOM) Council over the next five years, at the 36-country grouping's second forum.

BRITACOM now has 36 council members and 30 observers. It is intended to be the vehicle through which China can foster improved cooperation among countries supportive of the Belt and Road Initiative in the area of tax administration.

The Belt and Road initiative is a Chinese-led strategy to bind the economies and cultures of more than 60 countries by land and sea. It comprises a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt integrating trade and investment in Eurasia and an ocean-going Maritime Silk Road extending to Indonesia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The aim is that by 2050 the Belt and Road region will account for 80 percent of global GDP growth, and three billion more people will be advanced into the middle class. As part of such, China has signed a number of agreements to support other countries to develop tax-privileged economic zones within their territory, as part of its push to further its trade relations along the Belt and Road.

The stated goals of BRITACOM are to the build a growth-friendly tax environment through cooperation and the sharing of best practices against the following goals:

  • following the rule of law;
  • raising tax certainty;
  • expediting tax dispute resolution;
  • improving taxpayer service; and
  • enhancing tax administration capacity.

BRITACOM's stated goals include also supporting the development and implementation of measures against international tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), as spearheaded by the OECD, and the adoption of international tax transparency standards.

The first forum was held in 2019. Over 20 virtual meetings have reportedly been held among members since then, and 26 training programs, supporting 1,200 tax officials from 71 jurisdictions, have been staged at Belt and Road Initiative Tax Academies (BRITAs) in Yangzhou, China; Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan; Macao, China; and Beijing, China.

Chinese authorities have said the second forum, held in the first week of September, focused on how participating states can modernize tax administration. Representatives were present from 61 jurisdictions, including Kazakhstan, Russia, China, the UAE, and Singapore, as well as heads of 12 international organizations.

At the opening ceremony, Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, discussed the OECD's ongoing work to develop new international tax rules for the world's largest multinationals, intended to address the tax challenges of the digitalized economy.

Addressing the forum, Wang Jun, the first Chair of BRITACOM and the Commissioner of the Chinese State Taxation Administration (STA), said in the past two years BRITACOM has been transformed from a vision to a reality with concerted efforts. The latest forum discussed increasing the role of big data and analytics in tax administration; digitizing tax processes for the benefit of taxpayers; and the need for improved information exchange among council members, among other things.

Jun detailed how China has already introduced electronic filing options for 99 percent of tax-related filings. Over the period to 2025, he said China will focus on improving how it analyzes taxpayer data and introduce an electronic invoicing program to significantly modernize administration.

He said BRITACOM countries would discuss in future sessions the latest trends in digitization and opportunities for collaboration. He said support will be ramped up for the training programs offered via the BRITAs and the OECD-STA Multilateral Tax Centre in Yangzhou and more structure will be given to this agenda, in terms of establishing curricula and a pool of trainers from participating countries.

TAGS: Russia | United Arab Emirates | tax | investment | value added tax (VAT) | law | China | Singapore | agreements | multinationals | transfer pricing | Indonesia | Kazakhstan | trade | Africa | Middle East | BEPS

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