The Swiss Presidency of the Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrations (IOTA) together with the IOTA Secretariat successfully organised the 26th General Assembly of IOTA on 29th-30th June 2022 in Zurich, Switzerland. This 26th General Assembly was the first-ever hybrid General Assembly in the history of IOTA and took the Organisation's activities to the next level. The most important event of the year welcomed more than 150 high-ranking officials from partner organisations (European Commission, IMF, OECD), the business community and academia along with representatives of IOTA member tax administrations gathering personally at the foot of the Swiss Alps, and over 80 prominent attendees and tax practitioners joining digitally to the entirely new experience after two years of virtual operation.
The Administrative Session of the 26th General Assembly took place on 29th June and was followed by the Technical Session on 30th June 2022. The professional theme of the Technical Session revolved around “Compliance and Trust: affecting tax behaviour while redefining the relationship between taxpayers and tax administrations”.
ADMINISTRATIVE SESSION 29th JUNE 2022, WEDNESDAY
The Administrative Session was opened by Marc Bugnon, the President of IOTA and Alix Perrignon de Troyes, the Executive Secretariat of IOTA. The leaders of the Organisation welcomed the attendees, outlined the agenda and highlighted the objectives of the event.
During the Administrative Session of the General Assembly, IOTA members made important decisions regarding the new IOTA Strategy, the amendments to the Charter, the newly developed Code of Conduct, and the Financial Framework of the Organisation. More specifically the Members approved by voting the following:
- Internal Auditors Report 2021/2022
- IOTA Activities and Financial Report 2021
- Report on the Implementation of the IOTA Strategy 2018-2022
- Proposal for the IOTA Strategy 2023-2027
- IOTA Code of Conduct
- Proposed Amendments to the IOTA Charter
- Participation of Russia and Belarus in IOTA
- Proposals for the IOTA Financial Framework
- Budget and Work Programme 2023
The Members also accepted the application of the Iceland Revenue and Customs for Full Membership in IOTA which entered into effect on 29 June 2022. The 26th IOTA General Assembly appointed the Georgia Revenue Service as the next Presidency of IOTA for the period 2022/2023, with becoming Levan Kakava the new President of IOTA for the one-year term. Marc Bugnon, former President of IOTA handed over the IOTA flag to Levan Kakava, the Director-General of Georgia Revenue Service at the end of the Administrative Session.
Furthermore, the Members appointed the National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary to hold the 2023/2024 Presidency in IOTA, and the 28th General Assembly of IOTA will be held in Hungary.
The following IOTA member countries become appointed as Executive Council members for the term 2022/2023:
- United Kingdom.
Randy Schmidhäusler, from Switzerland, was appointed as Internal Auditor of the Organisation for a two-year term. Vera Bondarenko, from Belgium, who was appointed as Internal Auditor in last year’s General Assembly, will continue to hold the office during the period between the 26th and 27th General Assemblies. The Professional Theme of the 27th General Assembly of IOTA will be “Transformation of the International Tax System and Tax Administrations ” and the event will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia.
TECHNICAL SESSION 30th JUNE 2022, THURSDAY
The Professional Theme of the 26th General Assembly was “Compliance and Trust: affecting tax behaviour while redefining the relationship between taxpayers and tax administrations”. This year`s Technical Session was opened by Adrian Hug, Director, Swiss Federal Tax Administration.
The first plenary session of the General Assembly offered a series of introductory and keynote speeches that set a stage for discussions on the causes and drivers of taxpayer compliance behaviour as well as factors affecting their motivation to pay taxes voluntarily in times of global crisis. The session provided the participants with a great opportunity to gain insight from the initiatives of the international partner organisations (European Commission, IMF and OECD) that support the strengthening of trust between tax administrations and taxpayers. These included the implementation of a deeper, more structural reform to the EU’s business tax framework, modernisation of the EU’s VAT system, and progress made concerning the development of the rules, instruments and guidance needed to bring Pillar One and Two solutions into effect, integration of tax morale and embedding trust in tax system reform. International Organisations` keynote speeches were delivered by the following guest speakers:
- Gerassimos Thomas, Director General of Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission
- David Bradbury, Head of the Tax Policy and Statistics Division, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
- Juan Toro, Deputy Director of Fiscal Affairs Department, International Monetary Fund
The second plenary session took the form of a panel discussion to address the challenges in finding the right combination of enforcement, facilitation, and trust-building elements embedded in the overall strategy of a tax administration to achieve sustainable revenue increases, collected fairly and equitably, that translate into benefits for citizens. The panel discussion was led by the moderator Paolo Valerio Barbantini, Deputy Director-General of the Italian Revenue Agency, while Markku Heikura, Director-General of Finnish Tax Administration, Georgios Pitsilis, Governor of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue of Greece along with Ignacio del Río, Head of the International Relations Unit, Spanish Tax Agency joined the session as panellists.
In addition, attendees were actively involved in parallel sessions during the event. Each parallel session had a thematic stream and included short presentations on specific experiences, case studies, examples of trials and experiments illustrating how IOTA members deal with taxpayer psychology and behaviour (Romania, Austria, Denmark, Finland), how technology is being used to change taxpayer behaviour, enhance trust and foster compliance (Poland, Lithuania), how tax administrations cooperate with other governmental bodies (Norway, Georgia, Switzerland). These sessions also included a panel debate and delegates could raise questions during the Q&A and reflect on their experiences.
One of the afternoon plenary sessions took place in a form of a roundtable bringing together businesses and tax authorities to discuss possible approaches that tax authorities can apply for addressing taxpayer concerns over the trust. The roundtable discussion was led by the moderator Jean-Blaise Eckert, Secretary-General of the International Fiscal Association, while Annette Smith, CS&TD HMRC Strategies, UK Her Majesty Revenue and Customs, Albert Baker, Global Tax Policy Leader, Deloitte, Canada and Jason Piper, Head of Tax and Business Law, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) took part in the conversation as speakers.
The last plenary session opened the floor for the business community and academia to foster debate and generate ideas concerning greater transparency and a more cooperative approach to tax compliance to reduce tax uncertainty, influence taxpayer behaviour, and assist tax administrations to better focus their resources and promote a culture of greater trust. Speakers from the academic society were also invited to share their research findings and help attendees to gain new insights into the topic. This session was followed by a panel debate.
The discussion was led by the moderator Christoph Schwierz, Head of Unit, Revenue Administration and Public Financial Management, Directorate-General Reform, European Commission including the following speakers and presentations:
- “Co-operative Compliance: the way to provide tax certainty in an uncertain economic environment” by Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Owens, Director, WU Global Tax Policy Center at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law, Vienna University and Research and Angelina Papulova, Teaching Associate at the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law, Vienna University
- “Some reflections on compliance, from psychology to beneficial owners” by Prof. Dr. Victor van Kommer, Director of Tax Services, International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation
- “Increasing collaborative compliance of taxpayers in cross-border exchange of information” by Prof. Dr. iur. René Matteotti, Professor of Swiss, European and International Tax Law at the University of Zurich
All material, presentations and video recordings (to be uploaded soon) from the sessions are available to registered IOTA members through the dedicated webpage of the 26th General Assembly of IOTA.