Main objectives of the programme: Developing and implementing best practices in tax policy and administration in partnership with non-member countries
Co-operation with non-member countries operates within the framework of the OECD Global Forum which stresses the strong mutual interest in a common agenda among member and non member countries. As the economic systems become more global so do the problems facing tax policy makers and administrators. The Committee is currently conducting extensive work in important areas such as combating international tax evasion and avoidance, curbing harmful tax competition and taxing electronic commerce. This work has become the focus of the Committee's co-operative programme with non-member countries. Non-member countries face the same problems as do OECD countries and so can benefit from the OECD's work in these areas. Likewise, OECD countries benefit as the experiences and perspectives of non-member countries are critical to the successful implementation of the Committee's efforts. And to the extent that common approaches to problems is a critical part of the solution, the Committee's work is more likely to be successful in promoting economy activity and protecting the revenue base if all countries can work together to implement compatible solutions. In short, the Committee, by reconciling its inward focus towards the interests of its members with a focus outwards towards the global constituency, is able to develop, refine and implement its tax initiatives in partnership with the non member countries to the benefit of members and non members alike.
Providing a forum for multilateral dialogue with non-member countries
To promote the development of global tax standards and best practices, the Committee provides a forum in which non-member countries can contribute to and be involved in the dialogue on the key issues of its work programme. The Committee organises regular meetings of member and non-member country experts to discuss issues such as the negotiation, application and interpretation of tax treaties, the application of taxation of multi-national enterprises, development of a fiscal climate to promote investment, and problems and solutions in respect of harmful tax practices and taxing electronic commerce. More than 75% of the events with non-member countries planned for 2001 specifically deal with these core Committee issues.
Assisting countries in their transition to a market economy
The Global Forum is only one pillar of the Committee's activities with non-member countries. The other pillar is represented by the regional and country programmes. Direct transformation of the tax system in transition economies requires continued bilateral and multilateral support. This support enables the countries to design and operate tax systems that will yield sufficient revenues and correspond to international standards, while being fair and equitable. Major tax reform still needs to be implemented in almost all transition economies throughout the world. Co-operation with these economies is a significant element of the OECD non-member country programme. It takes the form of a policy dialogue, both in multilateral tax centres and in-country assistance, through regional programmes to initiate and improve the efficiency of tax systems, and through multilateral workshops on specific issues of the tax reform.
Preparing countries for Observership and possible Accession
Compliance with OECD standards and best practices in the fiscal area is an important criterion when assessing a country's request for accession. The non-member country programme played a significant role in facilitating the accession of Hungary, Mexico, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Korea. Meetings with tax policy experts from these countries assisted with the drafting of appropriate legislation, and OECD seminars helped to ensure the correct application of international taxation rules, especially in the area of tax treaties and transfer pricing. Currently the Russian Federation and Argentina have observership status in the Committee.
Focussing assistance efforts of Member countries
The non-member country programme complements the design and implementation of bilateral tax assistance programmes of OECD member countries. It helps member countries to identify assistance priorities and analyse specific needs through discussions with Ministries of Finance and tax administrations in participating countries. The OECD programme provides a cost-efficient framework for bilateral assistance and feedback from OECD seminars and workshops helps avoid any overlap in bilateral assistance programmes. Through participating in multilateral OECD courses and expert missions, member countries can benefit from the high OECD credibility amongst participating countries and at the same time, gain visibility for their own programme's contribution.
The 2001 programme and beyond
For 2001, the Committee is organising more than 100 events with non-member countries. These include high-level international conferences, multilateral and country-specific seminars, and expert missions. In addition to meetings at the OECD, the Committee operates four multilateral tax centres (in Austria, Hungary, Korea and Turkey); more than 25 weeks of courses and workshops are planned for these centres in 2001. In addition, in-country tax centres are operated in Russia and China. Special regional programmes have been developed for Central and Latin America, Asia and the Baltic countries. In total approximately 40 weeks of regional activities are planned for 2001. Operating through these tax centres greatly facilitates the administration of the programme, reduce costs and allow more events to be held. In all these activities, the Committee has developed partnerships with the major regional and international organisations active in the area of taxation as well as major member country funding agencies to minimise duplication and exploit synergies. These include Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrators (IOTA), the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations (CIAT), Centre de Rencontres de d'Etudes des Dirigeants des Administrations Fiscales (CREDAF) and the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA), as well as the IMF, World Bank and the UN.