Center of Excellence in Finance
Learning and Regional Cooperation in South East Europe

In Focus: IMF Tax Administration Advisor Reflects on His Experience of Working in South East Europe

Apr 9, 2014


Since Janaury 2011, we have been working closely with the International Monetary Fund's (IMF)Tax Administration Reform Advisor  Mr. Norman Gillanders to help the South East European (SEE) countries’ tax administrations  deal with the challenges they face in their attempts of achieving effective and efficient application of modern risk management approaches. Jointly we have been turning the IMF analysis of key problems into well-designed learning events.

Drawing on the IMF’s policies and previous personal experience in tax modernization, Mr. Gillanders believes that tax systems improvemnts require focusing on:

  • Collecting taxes due and reducing the shadow economy by acting within the law using  modern compliance risk management methods, and
  • Moving countries closer to the very valuable templates for contemporary tax administration contained in the EU Fiscal Blueprints.
These are complex tasks. Progress is being made in implementing them across SEE but it is slow and uneven. The IMF advice on these themes is increasingly reflected in annual compliance plans in regional revenue administrations and in their multi-annual strategies. »We have also seen the creation of specialist large taxpayer offices across the region, greatly improving the capacity to manage large percentages of national fiscal revenues. Some countries now have special units for managing the tax affairs of high wealth citizens. Increasingly, there is evidence that the EU compliance risk management strategy can deliver excellent results here; reducing the need for expensive and intrusive revenue audits.« explains Mr. Gillanders.

Mr. Gillanders is convinced that more progress will happen, especially if political backing for a coherent vision of the future tax administration as well as stable and strong leadership, commitment to reform, clear decisions about its direction and the provision of the necessary resources are in palce. Modern tax administrations need skilled risk analysts and well-trained auditors who understand the relationship between business activity, the books of account and the correct tax liabilities. Modern ways of working and good risk analysis also require good information technology support.For citizens and businesses, that means better service, more efficiency and improved focusing of tax compliance activity on those businesses that most deserve attention.

Notes for editors:
CEF training program on taxation is designed to help the South East European (SEE) countries’ tax administrations to deal with the challenges they face in their attempts of achieving effective and efficient application of modern risk management approaches. It combines training input from the European Commission (EC), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Netherlands Тах and Customs Agency, and others.The overarching theme of the CEF taxation learning program in 2014/2015 will continue to revolve around modern, risk-based approaches to tax compliance combining traditional learning methods with the participatory approach to learning.
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