Measuring the performance of tax and customs administrations in developing countries

June 12, 2014 > June 13, 2014, Clermont-Ferrand

International conference organised by Ferdi, ICTD, and Cerdi-University of Auvergne, in collaboration with the World Bank, the Centre Norbert Elias and the WCO.

Tax and customs administrations in emerging and developing countries operate under various political and economic constraints, which are mostly expressed in the form of quantitative indicators of performance.

The first goal imposed on them is to continually increase revenue collections relative to the previous year. This may be justified through a range of criteria: financing the provision of public goods, macroeconomic needs, recruiting new taxpayers, and promoting tax compliance and more efficient administration.

The second goal is to put resource mobilisation on a more secure and sustainable basis. Naturally, governments tend to focus on means of raising revenue in which they believe reduce risk: the creation of Large Taxpayer Units, the adoption of thresholds for custom valuation, privileged relationships with large importers, privileged arrangements for some firms in the collection and reimbursement of the VAT, and contracts with multinational companies engaged in import verification and valuation. However, in modernizing their operations, tax administrations take risks by choosing to rely on some control selectivity to improve their effectiveness. These choices reflect a kind of negotiation between the state and taxpayers intended to portray taxation as efficient and acceptable. Various codings are thus taken into account and used in decisions about reforms in tax and customs administration.

Can the managers of tax organisations use more sophisticated data rather than simple aggregate collection levels to analyse and understand the evolution of their organizations? How do managers evaluate likely risks and benefits when choosing control selectivity? As the volume of aid from the North decreases, there is increasing pressure to produce quantitative measures of its impact, despite simultaneous emphasis on the need to develop countries to take ownership of policy reforms (Paris Declaration).