Flattening the Curve of Tax Debts: IOTA Forum on Tax Debt Management

Adrienn Juhász's picture
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The meeting of the IOTA Forum on Tax Debt Management under the theme “Flatten-The-Curve” Of Tax Debts was held digitally between 23rd and 25th November 2021. The three-day event attracted over 90 registered participants from 32 IOTA member countries to discuss a variety of direct and indirect measures adopted by tax administrations to support taxpayers during the COVID-19 crisis, including easier access to debt payment plans and extension of plan duration, suspension of debt recovery and enforced debt collection, enhanced taxpayers’ services and communication initiatives.

Over the last 18 months, tax administrations continuously adopted various measures and coping mechanisms to ensure sustainable tax debt management. However, the COVID-19 crisis still leads to the growth of debts. This meeting of the IOTA Tax Debt Management Forum focused on the identification of the successful exit strategies for debt collection and recovery, new recovery measures, including enhanced risk analysis methodologies, and redesigned segmentation and profiling of tax debtors in order to minimize the impact of the crisis and prepare for the possible challenges in the post-pandemic period.

On the first day of the event, two plenary sessions took place. Firstly, a panel debate with Liam Keogh (Ireland), Anders Öbrink (Sweden), and Mark Goodridge (United Kingdom) reflecting on how tax administrations handled tax debt management during the pandemic crisis. The panellists touched upon the challenges of rapid implementation of new policies & legislation, the remote working regime of debt collection officers, handling of the misuse of the supporting measures, just to mention a few.

The second plenary session followed the theme ‘Getting tax debt recovery back on track (Exit strategies and roadmaps)’ and presented several country examples of already well-developed exit strategies and roadmaps for the reduction of debts in the post-pandemic period:

  • “Deferral of debts – Exit strategy of the Norwegian Tax Administration” by Espen Eiken (Norway)
  • “COVID-19 exit strategies - Supporting measures related to payment of tax debts” by Katalin Kanizsai (Hungary)
  • “COVID-19 exit strategy” by Michael Roekaerts (Belgium)

The event also welcomed 28 debt collection and recovery officials who participated in two group discussion sessions addressing new or adopted methods/tools for reduction of tax debts and enhancements in risk analysis and segmentation of debtors in the period of COVID-19.

The first group discussion session provided an opportunity for participants to discuss which measures reconciled tax debt problems of taxpayers deriving from the COVID-19 crisis within their administrations.

The Forum’s third plenary session on the second day discussed new or adapted methods and tools to ensure taxpayers are able to settle debts resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, with presentations such as:

  • “Instalment plans - the best tool for debt recovery in times of COVID-19” by Andreia Castro Carmo (Portugal)
  • “Communication with COVID-19 affected taxpayers in order to ensure their ability to settle debts” by Vitalija Burdeinaja (Lithuania)
  • “Web-based communication procedure for instalment plan requests during the pandemic” by Raphaël Goerend (Luxembourg)

The next topic of the Forum meeting covered “Risk analysis and segmentation of debtors in the period of COVID-19 pandemic crisis”, with the following IOTA member country presentations:

  • “Enforcement during the COVID-19 crisis” by Vladimir Telenchev (Bulgaria)
  • “Taxpayers behaviour – segmentation: impact on the decision-making process” by Karl-Heinz Tscheppe (Austria)
  • “Risk analysis and segmentation of debtors in the period of COVID-19 pandemic crisis” by Jayne Henderson-Hamilton (United Kingdom)

Participants of the second group discussion session shared concrete examples of enhanced risk analysis methodologies and the application of new adequate segmentation of tax debtors during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

IOTA member tax administrations are foreseeing a big wave of insolvent companies who wouldn’t be able to overcome the impact of the pandemic crisis, due to past debts but also the new tax obligations. Having in mind that  the morning session of the last day of the Forum hosted three presenters who gave valuable insights and future perspectives about “Tackling insolvency and bankruptcy during and after the COVID-19 crisis”:

  • “Tackling insolvency and bankruptcy during and after COVID-19 crisis” by Marija Jovičić  (Serbia)
  • “Insolvency and bankruptcy during and after the COVID-19 crisis” by Kathrin Nystad (Norway)
  • “Insolvencies in Sweden during the pandemic” by Anders Öbrink (Sweden)

The last panel debate reflected on the impact and lessons learned from the practical implementation of tax debt management measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis and identified some potential ways that may help to ensure sustainable tax debt management at times of a global crisis. Panellists included Levan Gobechia (Georgia), Georgios Kitsios (Greece), and Hans Kappen (the Netherlands).

In the course of the Forum meeting, participants were actively involved in the presentations by posting questions and reflecting on the important topics of the plenary sessions as well as answering the online polls which made the event even more interesting.

Presentations, group discussion notes and the video recording of all plenary sessions are available for registered IOTA website users on the event’s webpage.