A blog post by Lucas Rutherford, an advisor from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Economic, Social and Sustainable Development Directorate
Officials from tax administrations across the Commonwealth have this week converged on Accra, Ghana for the 38th annual Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA) conference. They are meeting under the theme of ‘Leveraging Technology to Enhance Revenue Administration’.
Technological innovation will continue to impact many areas of government, given the wide implications it has for both policy and regulatory frameworks and for the manner in which Government conducts its own business. Tax administrations, which are often one of the largest arms of the Governments system and play the leading role in helping countries mobilise the resources need to fund sustainable development, are no different.
Officials are exploring and sharing experiences on a range of topics ranging from the use of ‘big’ data to support compliance activity, the use of technologies such as cloud computing to manage information.
One trend is the application of blockchain technology, which is exciting public and private sectors alike. Probably best known as the technology upon which many cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are built, the potential application of this technology goes far beyond this.
In the tax context the use of blockchain could ensure that the accurate and reliable data needed for the operation of a modern tax system can be obtained – provided greater comfort to both taxpayers and tax authorities alike.
These technological developments will impact all countries and all tax administrations, whether they be from small or large countries, developed or developing, have an interest in their application. This is what makes CATA, one of the few truly global tax administration networks that one bridges the development divide, so valuable.
Executive Director of CATA, Mr Duncan Onduru, said: “As it does each year, the annual CATA conference provides an invaluable opportunity in which Commonwealth members can come together to share their experiences but also to forge closer working relationships”.
The CATA conference follows on from a number of other recent Commonwealth platforms in which the implications of technological innovations have been discussed. This included the meeting of Commonwealth Central Bank Governors in Washington in which the implications of technological innovation on the financial services sector (so called ‘Fintech’ was discussed). Commonwealth Law Ministers also recently concluded their meeting in the Bahamas which both the potential to strengthen the rule of law through technology and the ongoing work of the Commonwealth on Virtual Currencies were key areas of discussion.