Date of this Version

June 2002

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Bentley, Duncan (2002) The significance of declarations of taxpayers’ rights and global standards for the delivery of tax services by revenue authorities International Symposium on Japan’s Tax Reforms: In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Carl S Shoup, 5 June 2002 (Tokyo) and 7 June 2002 (Osaka).

Copyright © Duncan Bentley 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

[Extract] Declarations of Taxpayers’ Rights and global standards for the delivery of tax services by revenue authorities are very significant. The news is not all good for taxpayers and tax professionals. There are certain important issues about these declarations and associated delivery of tax services that must be understood.

• Declarations of taxpayers’ rights are about improving tax administration and taxpayer compliance; they are not about increasing taxpayers’ rights.

• If the government puts resources behind them, they inevitably act as a modernizing influence on the revenue authority and this can deliver significant efficiency gains to taxpayers.

• They can result in spectacular cultural changes within the revenue authority with a major focus on taxpayer service. However, these can usually only occur with the support of the relevant public sector unions.

• Increased efficiency in tax administration and significantly improved communication with taxpayers can provide the catalyst for increases in structural tax reform, as it becomes possible to deliver change more efficiently.

• Complaints handling within the revenue authority generally improves and other avenues for administrative review may be made available.

• In conjunction with the introduction of a taxpayer declaration and stated service standards there is usually a significant emphasis on identifying and penalizing taxpayer non-compliance.

Perhaps the most unexpected result of these changes is that tax agents are drawn into a closer partnership with the revenue authority. There are many advantages. However, tax agents need to be aware that they can effectively lose much of their independence through this process.

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