International tax cooperation for development has featured prominently on the United Nations development agenda, as contained in the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in economic and social fields.
Within the United Nations, the intergovernmental deliberations on international tax cooperation are undertaken by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In its resolution 2013/24, the Council decided to hold, on an annual basis, a special meeting to consider international cooperation in tax matters with the participation of national tax authorities. Previously, such meetings were held on an ad hoc basis since 2011. These meetings facilitate an inclusive and broad-based dialogue on international tax cooperation with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including representatives of national tax authorities of developing countries. They bring to the forefront the key issues of concern to developing countries, in the context of financing for sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda. In addition, the Financing for Development Office (FfDO) frequently organizes expert group meetings on current topics of particular importance to developing countries in this area.
A subsidiary body of ECOSOC, tasked with work on international tax cooperation, is the 25-member Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters (the Committee). Its core mandate is to keep under review and update as necessary the UN Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries and the Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries. In addition, the Committee provides a framework for dialogue with a view to enhancing and promoting cooperation among national tax authorities; considers how new and emerging issues could affect international tax cooperation and develops assessments, commentaries and appropriate recommendations; and makes recommendations on capacity-building and the provision of technical assistance. In all its activities, the Committee gives special attention to developing countries.
In recent years, ECOSOC has also been interested in strengthening United Nations role in international tax cooperation, including the work of the Committee. Following up on several previous reports addressing this issue, ECOSOC requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report reflecting the views of Member States on options for further strengthening the work and operational capacity of the Committee, with an emphasis on better integrating its work into the programme of work of the Council following its reform and effectively contributing to the financing for development follow-up process and to the post-2015 development agenda. This report was issued as E/2015/51 and was submitted to the special meeting of ECOSOC on 22 April 2015.
ECOSOC has also recognized the progress made by the FfDO in its work in developing, within its mandate, a capacity development programme in international tax cooperation, which is aimed at strengthening the capacity of the ministries of finance and national tax authorities in developing countries to develop more effective and efficient tax systems, with a view to supporting the desired levels of public and private investment, and to combat tax evasion. Moreover, the Council requested the Office, in partnership with other stakeholders, to continue its work in this area and to further develop its activities. Accordingly, FfDO reports to the Council annually on progress in implementation of the UN Capacity Development Programme in International Tax Cooperation.