Illicit Financial Flows to grab limelight at 2nd International Conference on Tax in Africa

Tax administrators from all over Africa are set to meet from 21 to 23 October 2015 in Lomé, Togo, under the auspices of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) when the organisation holds its 2nd International Conference on Tax in Africa (2ICTA).

The much anticipated gathering will be hosted by Mr Henry Gaperi, the Commissioner General of the Office Togolais des Recettes (OTR).

Under the theme “Tax Compliance and Limiting Illicit Financial Flows” discussions will be centered on non-compliance of taxpayers and will seek to answer the big question of how this can be attributed to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). The conferences hopes to unpack the various structures associated with IFFs.

According to the Africa Economic Outlook of 2015, 65% of all IFFs occur through international commercial transactions that include tax evasion, trade mis-invoicing and abusive transfer pricing, and involve mainly multinational corporations.

Recognising the importance of the report on IFFs from Africa produced by the Thabo Mbeki High-Level Panel, ATAF grasped the urgency with which African countries should collaborate to ensure the stemming of IFFs from the continent. Examining the link between issues of tax compliance and illicit financial flows and exploring possible recommendations for African tax policy and administration to effectively counter their negative impact will thus form the basis of discussions at the 2ICTA conference in Lomé.

The conference will discuss strategies of increasing voluntary compliance, which is an essential component among the building blocks of modern tax administrations. As identified in the ATAF Report on Good Tax Governance of 2011, developing a culture of compliance requires that tax administrations view and treat taxpayers first as clients rather than tax evaders and avoiders.

Well-defined and well-executed educational campaigns by tax administrations through the media and other new technologies can greatly help in ensuring that taxpayers understand and accept the compliance requirements. However, the most important objective of these measures taken is that clients must understand that the cost of dodging taxes and the risk of getting caught is high, and penalties must be applied when evasion is detected.

The conference will be attended by Heads and Senior Officials of African tax administrations and Ministries of Finance, while representatives of international and continental organisations, as well as from the private sector, civil society and academic institutions, have also been invited to contribute to the understanding of the issues at hand.

The ICTA conferences alternate annually with the ATAF General Assemblies. Past themes of these gatherings have been on “The International and Domestic Aspects of Tax Fraud, Evasion and Avoidance” in Mauritius in 2011; “Challenges of Tax Sovereignty, Competition and Cooperation: The Benefits and Risks of Tax Incentives and Exemptions for Economic Development in Africa” in Senegal in 2012; “The Taxation of Natural Resources in Africa” in Zimbabwe in 2013; and “Rethinking Leadership and Management Strategies in the African Tax Agenda” in Tanzania in 2014.

ATAF was established in November 2009 in order to create a platform to promote and facilitate mutual cooperation among African tax administrations and other relevant and interested stakeholders with the aim of improving the efficiency of their tax legislation and administration. It is an African organisation reflecting African needs and strategies.

Its work and programme priorities are driven and managed by African countries with the support of donor agencies, and various other tax administrations and international organisations.

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