After adopting a decision on future meetings of the Expert Committee on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, the Economic and Social Council then held a special meeting on the matter.
By that text — titled “Dates of the fourteenth session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters in 2017” (document E/2017/L.10) — the Council decided that the Committee’s fourteenth session would be held in New York from 3 to 6 April 2017. It also decided that the body’s one-day special meeting would be held in New York on 7 April 2017.
During the special meeting, the Council considered international cooperation in tax matters, including its contribution to mobilizing domestic financial resources for development and the institutional arrangements to promote such cooperation, with the participation of representatives of national tax authorities.
The Council also held three interactive dialogues featuring presentations by members of the Expert Committee — formally known as the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters. They discussed thematic issues within the broader tax discourse, including base erosion and profit shifting issues for developing countries, transfer pricing and exchange of information. The ensuing dialogues also focused on tackling international tax evasion and avoidance, challenges related to broadening the tax base of developing countries, and instruments for building capacity.
In addition, the Council took up the report “Enhancing the Effectiveness of External Support in Building Tax Capacity in Developing Countries”, submitted by the inter-agency Platform for Collaboration on Tax to the G20 Finance Ministers. Among other things, the report emphasized the need for a supportive political and social reform environment at the national level, while ensuring that all key stakeholders supported such country-led reform.
During the general discussion, speakers stressed that debates on implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda could not be separated from those on how to end poverty and achieve equality.
Furthermore, the representative of Indonesia noted that, while his Government had implemented policies with the aim of expanding its tax base, taxation was “not the silver bullet to answer the financing gap for all development needs”.
Speaking for civil society, Pooja Rangaprasad of the Financial Transparency Coalition called for more intergovernmental cooperation in a neutral platform, and in that context, supported calls by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China for the establishment of an intergovernmental United Nations tax body.
Closing the meeting, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the Council, pointed out that it was the first time the Expert Committee’s meeting and the Council’s special meeting had been held back to back. That milestone highlighted the importance of building a bridge between the technical work of the Committee and the development objectives of the Council, as well as the contribution the organ could make in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
He went on to note that the panel discussion’s focus on tax avoidance schemes used by multinational enterprises and the eroding of developing countries’ tax base was particularly relevant; a large part of domestic resources in those countries were raised through cooperation taxation. Touching on the ways developing countries could broaden their tax base, he expressed appreciation for the Committee’s efforts to provide guidance ensuring that sources of income from strategic economic sectors were taxed adequately.
The upcoming global conference, to be held at the United Nations Headquarters in February 2018, would be the first-ever platform to focus on the role of taxation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. Continued cooperation between the Committee and the Council in enhancing intergovernmental consideration of tax issues was of great importance, he emphasized, lauding the special meeting as an example of how effective discourse between those bodies and all stakeholders could move dialogue forward.
Also participating today were representatives of Gabon and India.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.