ATI & OECD Workshop – Digitalising Tax Administrations
Digitalisation and digital transformation are important to improve the efficiency and efficacy of revenue administrations. The use of information technology can aid in improving revenue and reducing taxpayer burdens. This makes it an ally of partner countries' revenue administrations and governments in their pursuit to collect the revenue necessary to fund public services – particularly in the context of the post-COVID-19 era.
Assessing the current status of revenue administrations on this matter is a crucial first step for making improvements. Therefore, the Secretariats of the Addis Tax Initiative (ATI) and the OECD’s Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) are currently co-organising a series of three workshops on using the FTA’s Digital Transformation Maturity Model (DTMM). The DTMM allows tax administrations to assess their current level of maturity with regard to digitalisation and digital transformation. The assessment results can be used when considering the strategy for digitalisation and digital transformation. The model is meant to be used by administrations on different maturity levels: from those in early stages of digitalisation via those partially or fully digitalised to those whose tax processes are under way to be digitally transformed and embedded in societal systems.
The focus of the first workshop, which took place on 26th October 2022, was on building motivation for applying the DTMM-based self-assessment by understanding the process of self-assessment and studying how the model works.
The second workshop of the series on 27th March 2023 brought together tax administration officials from the ATI partner countries Benin, Ecuador, Madagascar, and Sierra Leone as well as South Africa (as an observer). Representatives from donor countries and supporting organisations working closely with these countries also followed and engaged in the discussion – including the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), the Swedish Tax Agency, and the World Bank Group (WBG). The focus of this workshop was to share experiences, challenges, and insights from the self-assessment processes.
Mr Peter Wiezel from the ATI Secretariat opened the session by providing the context of this workshop series and how it contributes to the ATI Declaration 2025. This was followed by Mr Vegard Holmedahl from the FTA Secretariat who provided an overview of the presentation which was held in the first workshop: he explained what a “typical” self-assessment process looks like when conducting the DTMM as well as how it must be adapted to the situation and specific conditions of each tax administration.
Ms Varsha Singh from the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) moderated the input and dialogue of the workshop participants. Presentations from four partner countries (Benin, Ecuador, Madagascar, and Sierra Leone) provided insights into their DTMM-based self-assessment process.
Even though tax administrations are at different stages of the DTMM self-assessment, there are similarities between the processes such as the involvement of representatives from different areas within the organisation and the senior management team. Another similarity is that several tax administrations had previously used other assessment tools such as the Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool (TADAT).
Mr Hajarivony Andriamarofara from the World Bank added that all the different assessment tools might create confusion to tax administrations regarding their differences and added value. In addition, Mr Vegard Holmedahl highlighted that the DTMM and TADAT must be seen as complementary because they have significant differences regarding target group, scope, methodology, and concept.
Experiences shared by the partner countries included the challenge of assembling the right team for self-assessment and the confusion related to the similar, but different terms digitalisation and digital transformation. Another challenge was monitoring the implementation of the digital strategy. The importance of a digital maturity assessment as a basis for gap analysis and tackling the process of dividing responsibility for digitalisation among tax administration departments were also discussed.
Ms Varsha Singh concluded the exchange by pointing out the importance of identifying gaps in all areas of a tax administration and adding them into a single reform plan – bringing together the different teams from across the organisation and senior management as early as possible. Having an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) strategy as a starting point was also recommended.
For the preparation of the third workshop Mr Holmedahl noted the importance of providing feedback beforehand on particular issues and topics that affect the interested parties. That way, these can be incorporated in the last workshop of the series. Mr Wiezel then proceeded by thanking the participants and closing the session.
In the third workshop, which will be held on 25th May 2023, participants will focus on using self-assessment results when developing or revising a digitalisation and digital transformation strategy.
Revenue administrations that are interested in participating in similar workshops or have questions related to the DTMM are welcome to contact one of the Secretariats of the ATI at firstname.lastname@example.org or the OECD's FTA at FTA@oecd.org.