Terms of reference
In its resolution 2004/69, ECOSOC decided to rename the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters with a mandate to:
1. Keep under review and update as necessary the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries and the Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries;
2. Provide a framework for dialogue with a view to enhancing and promoting international tax cooperation among national tax authorities;
3. Consider how new and emerging issues could affect international cooperation in tax matters and develop assessments, commentaries and appropriate recommendations;
4. Make recommendations on capacity-building and the provision of technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition;
5. Give special attention to developing countries and countries with economies in transition in dealing with all the above issues.
At the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, held in July 2015, Member States decided to increase the frequency of Committee Sessions to two per year, with a duration of four working days each (General Assembly resolution 69/313).
Membership, composition and term of office
The Committee comprises 25 members nominated by Governments and acting in their expert capacity. The members, who are appointed by the Secretary-General after notification is given to ECOSOC, for a term of four years, are drawn from the fields of tax policy and tax administration and are selected to reflect an adequate equitable geographical distribution, representing different tax systems.
As called for in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Committee meets biannually, once in the spring in New York, and once in the fall in Geneva.
Methods of work
The Committee formulated its working methods during its first session. Subsequently, ECOSOC, in its resolution 2006/48 recognized that the Committee agreed to create, as necessary, ad hoc subcommittees composed of experts and observers who would work throughout the year to prepare and determine the supporting documentation for the agenda items for consideration at its regular session. It recommended that subcommittees should use electronic communications where possible, but recognized that the efficient operation of these subcommittees may in future require some face-to-face meetings. The same resolution, requested the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund to receive voluntary contributions from Member States and other institutions interested in providing financing for the Committee’s activities in supporting international cooperation in tax matters, including support for the participation of experts from developing countries.
The Committee has relied heavily on its subcommittees and working groups for its work, especially in relation to updating the UN Model. The subcommittees and working groups focus during the year on certain issues related to the Model and then present options, including specific wording for review and adoption by the Committee during its annual sessions. The subcommittees have also been instrumental in taking forward the Committee’s work on revision of the Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries and on drafting of the UN Transfer Pricing Manual for Developing Countries, as well as in implementing other aspects of the Committee’s mandate such as in the areas of new and emerging issues affecting international cooperation in tax matters and capacity building. As they fulfil their mandates, the subcommittees and working groups are dissolved by the Committee.
The Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries was established in 1968 pursuant to the ECOSOC resolution 1273 (XLIII) of 4 August 1967 after considerable efforts made by the League of Nations, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation and the United Nations. In 1980, the Group of Experts finalized the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries, whose aim was to promote the conclusion of treaties between developed and developing countries, acceptable to both parties and would fully safeguard their respective revenue interests.
Accordingly, in its resolution 1980/13 of 28 April 1980 (see doc. E/1980/80), the ECOSOC gave a broad title to the Group, namely, “Ad Hoc Group of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters” and increased its membership from 20 to 25 drawn from tax administrators of 10 developed and 15 developing countries and economies in transition. The Group of Experts finds its mandate in ECOSOC resolution 1273 (XLIII), which “requests the Secretary-General to set up and ad hoc working group consisting of experts and tax administrators nominated by the Government, but acting in their personal capacity, both from developed and developing countries and adequately representing different regions and tax systems, with task of exploring, in consultation with interested international agencies, ways and means of facilitating the conclusion of tax treaties between developed and developing countries.”
The mandate of the Group of Experts has been broadened to include the tax treaties between developed and developing countries as well as bearing on international cooperation in tax matters. Therefore, the Group of Experts examines, transfer pricing; mutual assistance in collection of debts and protocol for the mutual assistance procedure; treaty shopping and treaty abuses; interaction of tax, trade and investment; financial taxation and equity market development; tax treatment of cross-border interest income and capital flight; and taxation of electronic commerce.
By its resolution 2004/69 of 11 November 2004 the ECOSOC renamed the Group the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters.