The organisation of regional seminars and workshops is one of the key elements of the OECD taxation programme. In 1991 the OECD established a network of Multilateral Tax Centres. Since the programme's launching more than 300 activities have been organised at the Centres. These have ranged from two-day workshops on income tax policy to three-week seminars on international taxation and tax treaties. More than 6300 senior and mid-level tax officials from Ministries of Finance and tax administrations from 33 countries have participated in the OECD multilateral tax courses so far. Currently there are four Multilateral Tax Centres; Ankara, Budapest, Vienna and Chonan. The Copenhagen Centre, having completed its mission, was closed in 1998.
The Ankara centre is hosted by the Turkish Ministry of Finance in co-operation with the Turkish International Co-operation Agency (TICA). It provides up to 14 weeks of seminars and workshops on both domestic and international tax issues a year. The courses are directed at countries in the Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), the Central Asian and Transcaucasian NIS (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Tadjikistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) and Mongolia. The Vienna centre is hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Finance and is situated in the training centre of the Austrian Federal Academy of Finance. Each year it offers up to 8 weeks of highly specialised workshops on issues of international taxation and related domestic issues. Participants come mainly from Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries. The requirement for the Budapest centre which is hosted by the Hungarian Ministry of Finance and offers up to 7 weeks of seminars per year to participants for Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries in the future is currently being reviewed in the light of the changing emphasis of the programme. The Korea-OECD Tax Centre was established in 1997. Operated in co-operation with the Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy it offers 5 weeks of workshops on special issues in international taxation and related domestic issues for senior officials from Central and Eastern Asian countries (China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam).
The OECD programme complements the assistance programmes of the OECD Member countries in assisting participating countries to adapt taxation practices consistent with a market economy. The programme facilitates experience-sharing between transition countries and OECD Member countries in the areas of international taxation, tax policy, tax administration and tax training. It contributes to the development and adoption of global tax standards in the area of international taxation. The programme promotes these standards and assists non-member countries to apply them in a correct and efficient way. For transition economies the establishment of a secure revenue base is a prerequisite for a successful move to a market economy. Their access to the experience and know-how of OECD Member countries is essential for the continuation of the reform process. A number of transition economies have made considerable progress in tax reform, but their tax systems require faster adaptation. Modern concepts have still to be fully introduced.
Main programme objectives are:
The Multilateral Tax Centres are the only permanent venue for workshops that exchange experience between transition country tax officials and experts from OECD Member countries. The operation of the centres is cost-efficient and successful. A one-week workshop for 25 senior tax officials at the Vienna centre costs no more than 26 000 USD. OECD courses have a practical focus and are taught by experienced lecturers from finance ministries and tax administrations in OECD Member countries, private sector practitioners and tax professionals. They facilitate the establishment of ongoing contacts between tax officials in OECD Member countries and their counterparts in the participating countries.
A comprehensive review of the multilateral tax centre programme was undertaken by OECD Member countries in 1995. The following conclusions were drawn:
"I have acquired a lot of new knowledge which will have a tremendous influence on my work. Another important aspect is the personal contacts with other participants from different states with different tax systems. I am grateful to the OECD for this opportunity." (Comment made by a participant in the evaluation of a course on tax treaties in Ankara.)
The countries in the Balkan, Trans-Caucasian and Central Asians region continue to have a need for assistance and sharing experiences in tax reform and improving tax administration. The Ankara centre, being the only permanent venue for experience-sharing among these countries, will therefore continue its operation at the current level of activities. For the countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Asia the possibility to discuss special issues in international taxation and related domestic issues with their counterparts from OECD countries will continue to be an area of high interest for both sides. Vienna and Chonan will increasingly focus on tax competition issues, information technology and electronic commerce and the consequences for the tax system, combating international tax avoidance and the taxation of Multinational Enterprises.
Recent workshops organised at the multilateral tax centres: