Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will, on Tuesday, open the 3rd International Conference on Tax in Africa (ICTA), which holds in Abuja from 26 to 29 September. The ICTA, the flagship conference of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), has as its theme: “Building Strong Domestic Tax Regimes in Africa: Strengthening VAT, PIT and CIT.”
The conference will also celebrate and recognise the six African experts selected to serve on the United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters. Five of the six members are from ATAF member countries and two of these are on the ATAF Council. They include Mr. Tunde Fowler (Nigeria), Chairperson of the ATAF Council; and Mrs Elfrieda Stewart Tamba (Liberia).. Thier membership of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters is regarded as an acknowledgement of the sterling work of ATAF in transforming taxation in Africa and the expertise within its ranks.
To end poverty and hunger by 2030, the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are premised on strategies that build economic growth to address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection. Tax revenue, is therefore viewed as the main enabler for achieving these goals.
The African Union has set Agenda 2063 to build “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in international arena.” To fulfil this vision, Agenda 2063 talks of the need for inclusive growth and sustainable development as well as good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law. To bring this agenda into fruition, domestic resource mobilisation takes a central role, as donor fatigue is now only too evident.
African countries are signatories to both these ambitious milestones. For ATAF, continent meeting both these agendas will, largely hinge on effective domestic resource mobilisation (DRM) or strengthening domestic tax regimes in every African country. In light of this, both the Forum’s Council as well as it’s General Assembly have given the directive for a strong focus on domestic taxes, hence the theme for ICTA 2017.
The Conference is focusing on specific domestic taxes including VAT, Personal Income Tax (PIT) and Corporate Income Tax (CIT) due to their potential contribution and the underlying risks that are likely to undermine the revenue take.
Value Added Tax (VAT) is administered in 44 of the 54 African countries and is seen as the tax of the future as it has a broad base and therefore, needs review of processes for effectiveness and efficiency in its administrations.
Corporate Income Tax (CIT) is in the spotlight as more manufacturing industries take root in the continent. Similarly, there is a growing service sector constituting the financial, telecommunication and real estate.
Personal Income Tax derived from individuals such as employee PAYE, other withholding tax schemes and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) are also key contributors to domestic revenue.
These tax heads have a quicker turn-around time if well administered in terms of taxpayer registration, return filing and payment, audits, collections, refunds and dispute resolution and can readily contribute to financing recurrent budgets of the African continent.
The conference programme is designed along expert panel discussion sessions and presentations. The ICTA 2017 will look at Technical challenges, successes and good practice in the administration of VAT in Africa; Enhancing performance of PIT through broadening the tax base, sanitising the taxpayer register and improved taxpayer experience with regard to managing complianceDealing with complexities of CIT taking into account the filing of corporate tax returns, enhanced customer service delivery, corporate structures vis-a-vis tax planning, tax audits and investigation.
Delegates and panellists to this year’s ICTA are expected to come from beyond ATAF 38-member countries, including from other revenue authorities and organisations such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank, OECD, International Tax Compact, GIZ, Tax Justice Network – Africa, ECOWAS and CREDAF.