Taxes in the Age of COVID-19

December 17, 2020

From 31 August to 3 September, and from 2 November to 5 November, 15 participants completed the new virtual ‘Future of Tax’ course. Sponsored by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and organized by JVI in cooperation with the Economic University of Vienna (Tax Institute), the University of Vienna, and the IMF, the course investigated current challenges that tax systems in emerging and developed countries face.

The objective of the course was to develop a shared understanding of modern tax systems and tax administrations, and to encourage a practice of dialogue and reflection regarding the development and implementation of new tax laws and policies. It therefore included a range of topics relevant to ministries of finance as well as tax administrations, including such regional and international trends as illicit financial flows, digitalization, taxation and inequality, tax competition, tax certainty, fraud, and reforms of tax administrations. The COVID-19 pandemic as a reform driver had a center stage in the curriculum, given its role in exacerbating existing structural constraints. Not only do tax policy and administrative measures play a vital role in ensuring business survival. In the medium and longer term, most countries will face the challenge of adapting tax policies to raise additional revenues to finance increased expenditures while preserving growth. Equally, ensuring fairness of taxation in the context of rising inequality is key to upholding legitimacy. Modern administrative capacities, not least to confront a well-established practice of international tax avoidance and evasion and to manage a rapid adaptation to the digital environment, are of the essence.

Lecturers from the BMF shared the Austrian experience with the participants, while participant presentations informed their peers on their country situation and shared their experience of COVID-19 related reforms of their tax systems. The course included a well-attended public webinar on digitalization and taxation. Overall, as participants’ feedback indicated, the course was successful in providing a platform for exchange on the ways forward towards mobilizing domestic resources in an inclusive, sustainable and effective way.

In 2021, the course will be offered face-to-face. In case of continued travel restrictions, a shorter online version will be offered as a means to connecting and sharing experiences. You can review the course description and register online on the JVI website.

Barbara Dutzler, Senior Economist, JVI

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