15 December 2020
We, Member Tax Administrations (hereinafter referred to as “TAs”), Observers and Members of the Advisory Board of the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism (BRITACOM) held a high-level virtual conference (hereinafter referred to as "Conference") with the theme of “New Challenges, New Opportunities and New Future: Development Planning of Tax Digitalization in the Context of the Global Pandemic” on 15 December 2020. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic poses serious threats to the socio-economic development of the world at large. The Conference focused on digitalizing tax administration and further highlighting the role of the multilateral tax cooperation platform of BRITACOM against the backdrop of the pandemic. Agreed to by all BRITACOM Member TAs，this Joint Statement is the outcome of the Conference and is issued under the responsibility of the Chair of BRITACOM Council for all BRITACOM Member TAs.
Multilateral Tax Cooperation in the Context of Pandemic
1. We recognize that the impact of COVID-19 is extensive and long-lasting, calling for BRITACOM’s coordinated and solid responses as well as multilateral cooperation to promote socio-economic development and build a closer community with a shared future. We reiterate that, based on the principle of “extensive consultation, joint efforts, and shared benefits” under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) , we will strengthen cooperation in tax administration, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation among BRI jurisdictions, and contribute to the fulfillment of inclusive and sustainable development as set out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
2. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have carried out intensive and good cooperation in fighting against COVID-19 together. We have held 12 online events and exchanged views on topics such as combating the pandemic and supporting development, international taxation and tax digitalization. We have reached broad consensus and the discussions have achieved positive outcomes, thus contributing to the combat against the pandemic and to the socio-economic recovery. We will constantly build the cross-border, cross-sector and cross-business international cooperation mechanism, jointly consolidate the achievements of combating the pandemic, share best practices, promote the construction of a growth-friendly tax environment, and make contributions to the economic recovery.
3. We recognize that the pandemic has accelerated the development of digital economy and opens a new pathway for economic development. Meanwhile, the vigorous development of digital economy has also created divide in aspects such as employment, taxation and social development and has significantly impacted the current tax system and tax administration. We will pay close attention to the updates in the digitalization process, carry out multilateral discussions through the BRITACOM platform, encourage jurisdictions to strengthen the research on issues and trends of tax challenges of the digital economy, actively participate in the process of international tax rule-making, improve the tax distribution rules of digital economy in respective jurisdictions, develop information technologies in the field of taxation to address the challenges of digital economy, and seek to bridge the digital divide.
Development of Digitalizing Tax Administration
4. We note the far-reaching impact of the information technology revolution on the global economy, as well as the opportunities and challenges posed by the innovative development of information technology in the field of taxation. We will continue to share experience in the field of digitalizing tax administration, further exchange views, reach consensus, deepen cooperation, and summarize tax policies and measures which are aimed to combat pandemic and support development, so as to achieve our common aspiration of digitalizing tax administration.
5. We highly emphasize the importance of the development planning for tax digitalization, encourage and welcome the tax authorities to plan the development of tax digitalization in line with their circumstances, determine the directions of digitalization, create the strategy of digitalized taxation business system, strengthen the design of infrastructure system, ensure the smooth and efficient operation of information system, and promote the development of tax digitalization in a step-by-step and focused manner.
6. We recognize the measures taken by tax authorities to support the pandemic prevention and control, economic recovery and productivity development. We call for the comprehensive promotion of digitalizing tax administration and ensuring the business continuity of tax administrations to maximize the functional role of taxation to relieve the impact of COVID-19.
7. We encourage the development of “non-contact” taxpayer services in a taxpayer-centered approach and will proactively explore “non-contact” taxation in line with the circumstances in respective jurisdictions. Based on taxpayers’ requirements, we would adopt intelligent technologies and innovative management methods, broaden service channels, facilitate taxpayer service, and develop a taxpayer service ecosystem with digitalization and artificial intelligence, so as to improve tax compliance and reduce taxation cost. Meanwhile, we call for necessary caring for taxpayers who are incapable of using digitalized applications to guarantee they enjoy equal rights of taxpayer services.
8. We fully acknowledge the importance of information technology in the field of taxation, and will actively explore the application of cutting-edge information technology such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, whilst respecting sound data protection and security rules. Through enhancing the digitalization of tax administration, solving the difficult problems of tax administration in the context of digital economy and sharing experiences in electronic invoices, online tax filings and big data application, we would accelerate the building of intelligent taxation to better serve the governance in BRI jurisdictions.
9. We propose strengthening the infrastructure construction, quality control and analytics application of tax big data and building a data governance mechanism applicable to the respective circumstances of BRI jurisdictions, so as to jointly promote the modernization of tax administration. Giving full play to the strength of tax big data, we will enhance the application of tax big data to facilitate macroeconomic development under the pandemic and to help enterprises resume their business.
10. We will continue to improve the organizational structure of the BRITACOM, build a scientific and efficient operation mechanism, maximize the functional role of each component of the BRITACOM, motivate all parties to make joint contributions, and sustain our efforts in creating a regular communication mechanism following the principle of extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits.
11. We highly value the achievements of the five working groups in the following areas: raising tax certainty, expediting tax dispute resolution, enhancing tax capacity building, streamlining tax compliance and digitalizing tax administration. With a strong implementation framework, orderly operation mechanism and explicit measures to promote the implementation of Wuzhen Statement and Wuzhen Action Plan (2019-2021), each working group has accumulated data extensively, carried out fundamental research, conducted in-depth discussions and prepared an interim report.We will further deepen our work in all areas and reflect the most recent achievements of all jurisdictions in the fields of business environment and tax governance with high-quality final reports.
12. We remain committed to building the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Capacity Enhancement Group (BRITACEG) into an important platform for enhancing the tax administration capacity of BRI jurisdictions and have achieved great progress in the following aspects over the past year or two. Based on the existing institutions and resources of the BRITACEG Members, the construction of tax academies is steadily advancing; relying on tax academies and online training, the faculty is being strengthened continuously; with innovative communication methods, on-the-spot and online training and seminars have achieved positive effects. Focusing on the theme of digitalizing tax administration, we will continue to build the regular online training mechanism and conduct training, research and technical assistance programs with the support of the BRITACEG.
13. With the BRITACOM official website (www.britacom.org) and Belt and Road Initiative Tax journal as the platform and bridge, we will hold virtual exhibitions by overcoming temporal and spatial constraints, upload seminar videos to exchange opinions on a larger scale, constantly update columns with focus on international hot issues, and encourage all parties to contribute and publish tax professional articles, so as to give full play to the role of information sharing, communication and mutual learning, and promote digitalization of tax administration in BRI jurisdictions.
14. We highly commend the contributions of the Advisory Board in participating in BRITACOM work streams and will continue to attract prominent figures from all related fields to join the Advisory Board. We will constantly and fully mobilize intellectual resources, improve the digitalization expert group under the Advisory Board with the theme of tax digitalization, and encourage them to offer advice and opinions on the operation of the BRITACOM with their professional expertise, practical experience, keen perspectives and cutting-edge insights.
15. We express our appreciation to the BRITACOM Secretariat for its efforts in successfully hosting this Conference and look forward to the Second Conference of the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Forum in Kazakhstan in 2021.