First Global Conference of the Platform for Collaboration on Tax - Taxation and the Sustainable Development Goals
February 14-16, 2018New York

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) will hold its First Global Conference on February 14-16, 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The conference will focus on the key directions for tax policy and administration needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speakers and participants will include senior country policymakers, tax administrators, and representatives from academia, the private sector, civil society, donor organizations, and regional tax organizations. Conference sessions will cover five thematic areas:

  • domestic resource mobilization and the state

  • the role of tax in supporting sustainable economic growth, investment and trade

  • the social dimensions of tax (poverty, inequality, and human development)

  • tax capacity development

  • tax cooperation. 

The conference will build on the vibrant global dialogue on taxation, and insights and views from the conference will help inform and shape the future work of the PCT and its members. The conference also aims to provide guidance to individual countries and other stakeholders on how to better target tax efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Attendance at this conference is by invitation only.

About the PCT

The PCT is a joint initiative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), and the World Bank Group to strengthen collaboration on domestic resource mobilization (DRM). The Platform, which is also supported by the governments of Luxemburg, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, fosters collective action for stronger tax systems in developing and emerging countries. The four PCT members each support country efforts through policy dialogue, technical assistance and capacity building, standard setting on international tax matters, and knowledge creation and dissemination. The PCT also produces guidance and tools on key issues of capacity building and international taxation, and has also developed the Medium-Term Revenue Strategy, which is an approach for coordinated and sustained support to country-led tax reform.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

9:00-10:00 Registration
10:00-11:20 Opening Session (Plenary) - The Role of Taxation in Achieving the SDGs
11:20-11:40 Coffee break
11:40-1:00 Session I - Setting the stage (Plenary): Perspectives on taxation's role
1:00-3:00 Lunch/Side events
3:00-4:20 Session II (Plenary) - DRM, fiscal sustainability and growth: Evidence to date
4:20-4:40 Coffe break

Session III-A (Parallel): Resource abundance and taxation: Avoiding the curse

Session III-B (Parallel): Smarter taxation for better gender equality    

Session III-C (Parallel): Fiscal policy for sustainable development: Environmental taxes

7:30 Welcome cocktail

Thursday, 15 February 2018

8:30-9:30 Side events
10:00-11:20     Session IV (Plenary): Tax Administration: How tax administration can contribute to achieving the SDGs
11:20-11:40 Coffee break
11:40-1:00 Session V (Plenary): International Tax, BEPS and the SDGs
1:00-3:00 Lunch/Side events

Session VI-A (Parallel): Transformational development: Taxing to improve health and human development

Session VI -B (Parallel): Resource leakages: Illicit Financial Flows

Session VI-C (Parallel):  DRM and state building: Taxation for better governance 

4:20-4:40 Coffee break
4:40-6:00 Session VII (Plenary): Equity challenges: Taxation for better income distribution
6:15-7:15 Side events

Friday, 16 February 2018

8:30-9:30 Side events
10:00-11:20 Session VIII (Plenary): Tax Capacity Development
11:20-11:40 Coffee break
11:40-1:00 Session IX (Plenary): The way forward: Role of international tax cooperation in supporting the SDGs
1:00-3:00 Lunch/Side events

Opening Session (Plenary)- The Role of Taxation in Achieving the SDGs by 2030

This first session will draw on the overall follow-up and review process of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, and will emphasize the universal agenda of the SDGs. It focusses on how taxation[1]- can be used as policy instrument to achieve the SDGs. It should cover the different dimensions of taxation as it relates to the SDGs, highlighting domestic resource mobilization and including inclusive growth, sustainability, gender equality, fragility, good governance, private sector efficiency and human development, among others.

It should take stock of the situation end 2017 with taxation reforms and efforts to support such reforms and discuss possible interrelated actions in order to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

[1] For brevity, this term is to be read here as including nontax sources of government revenue.

Session I - Setting the stage (Plenary): Perspectives on taxation's role in achieving the SDGs

This session will allow senior officials and distinguished observers to explain how they see the role of taxation in achieving the SDGs—the obstacles faced in realizing this potential, and how they can be overcome (including lessons from past experiences, good and bad). Attention will need to be paid to countries’ quite differing circumstances, including fragile contexts, and appropriate recognition made that many developing countries have managed to increase revenue ratios quite significantly over the last fifteen years or so. While the session will focus on the ‘big picture’ issue of raising adequate total revenues, it will also raise the challenges faced in reconciling this concern with growth, fairness and state building objectives—and make links between revenue and spending sides of government activities.

Session II (Plenary) – DRM, fiscal sustainability and growth: Evidence to date

This session will focus on the role of tax policy to mobilize domestic revenue in order to expand fiscal space and ensure fiscal sustainability, drawing a clear link to SDG17. The session should consider DRM strategies in comparison with other forms of financing such as borrowing (internal and external), expansive monetary policy, and foreign grants, and their effects on macroeconomic stability and growth.  It should also examine the evidence to test whether policy and administrative approaches currently adopted by lower income countries (including fragile states) are delivering strengthened DRM and imposing macro and growth prospects. 

Session III-A (Parallel): Resource abundance and taxation: avoiding the curse

This session will capture the complexity of taxing natural resources by analyzing current challenges and concrete examples of tax reform, particularly in the oil and mining sectors. Key questions include: does the prospect of low commodity prices require scaling back expectations of the revenue available to finance SDGs in resource rich countries; what lessons can be learnt from previous commodity price slumps in terms of reforming the natural resource fiscal regime; what is the right balance between increasing general tax revenue and reforming natural tax regimes? The session will cover such dimensions as government sharing of profits, progressivity of the tax instruments chosen, effects of the taxation regime on the local population, political economy of reforms, management transparency, social and environmental effects, and economic diversification issues.

Session III-B (Parallel):  Smarter taxation for better gender equality

This session will assess the gender implications of tax systems in developing countries, providing concrete examples of reforms that can lead to eliminating gender biases in taxation, in reference to, for example, property, family income, or MSMEs owned by women, among others.  The links with SDG 5 will be made and explored.

Session III-C (Parallel): Fiscal policy for sustainable development: Environmental taxes

Environmental concerns are central to several SDGS—this session will focus on the role that taxation can play in those contexts. It will address experiences to date with carbon taxation and trading systems and their role in meeting countries mitigation pledges for the Paris Agreement (NDCs); recent experiences with broader energy price reform;  administrative aspects of environmental taxes;  addressing the burdens of higher energy prices on vulnerable households and firms and reconciling higher energy prices with goals for universal access to affordable energy; the potential role of carbon price floor agreements among a coalition of large emitters as a complement to the Paris process; strengthening fiscal frameworks to enhance resilience to climate risk in vulnerable countries. 

Session IV (Plenary): Tax administration: How tax administration can contribute to achieving the SDGs

Effective institutions for tax and customs administration are essential to strong compliance, which is important not only for its direct impact on revenues but also for enhancing fairness and building trust in tax system.  This session will look at some of the major aspects of understanding and addressing compliance, and experiences in tax administration reform from a range of developing countries. It will highlight some reforms that have been shown to have a greater impact on compliance in areas (such as: organizational, operational, information and relationship management, and address such key issues to address as: What are the key drivers of noncompliance? How can new tools help benchmark tax administrations and measure the outcome/impact of reform? 

Session V (Plenary): International Tax, BEPS and the SDGs

This session will be focused on the challenges of implementing business taxation globally, from the perspective of developing countries with different contexts, including fragility and stability.  In particular, it should analyze how the design and implementation of business taxation can minimize distortions to economic decisions while, at the same time, ensure that businesses comply with their tax obligations globally.  It should discuss the challenges of taxing corporate income in a globalized world where transactions are often digital, not bound to territories, and many inputs along the value chain are intangible.  In particular, different proposals to tax multinational companies should be discussed, with a particular focus on formulating solutions to reduce tax avoidance in developing countries. Relevant work carried out by international and regional organizations should also be presented and discussed.

Session VI-A (Parallel): Transformational development: taxing to improve health and human development

This session will approach health related taxes from the perspective of behavior correction which can curb the consumption of health damaging products and lead to better public health outcomes, and as such link to SDG 3. It should further elaborate on the risks and consequences associated with consumption of those unhealthy products (such as alcohol, tobacco or sugar) as affordability increases in developing countries and young populations, the future of the labor force, consume them.  The session should assess recent experiences from developed and developing countries in curbing consumption of health damaging goods and their effects on the well-being of the poorer segments of the population.

Session VI-B (Parallel): Revenue leakages: Illicit Financial Flows

Tackling illicit financial flows is a priority for most countries and is reflected in SDG 16. This session will focus on the impact that illicit financial flows (IFFs), in particular those caused by tax evasion and corruption, may have on sustainable development. It will discuss measures, both at the national and international level, which may help to reduce IFFs and identify opportunities to increase cooperation among the range of actors tackling IFFs. It should also cover policies and actions that may address the underlying behaviours that give raise to IFFs, as well as the challenges limiting progress and taking into consideration fragile settings

Session VI-C (Parallel): DRM and state building: taxation for better governance 

This session will be dedicated to the role of DRM in state building by enforcing a social contract between citizens and the state, highlighting the links with SDG16. It should discuss different approaches to building a government’s credibility to be more effective in raising fiscal revenues, as well as strategies to motivate citizens and companies to comply with their tax obligations.

Session VII (Plenary): Equity challenges: taxation for better income distribution

This session will address existing and growing equity challenges worldwide from the perspective of taxation, linking to SDG 1 on poverty and 10 on inequality.  It will discuss specifically how different tax instruments on, for example, personal income, corporate income, capital gains and wealth assets, could be instrumental to reducing disparities at the country level and globally taking also into account fragile and conflict affected areas. 

Session VIII (Plenary): Tax Capacity Development 

This session will highlight successful capacity development initiatives in tax policy and administration, gathering lessons learned and good practices, as well as exploring its links to SDG 17 (and especially 17.1). This session will aim at gathers and share lessons for developing countries facing different challenges in multiple contexts, including fragile settings.

It will also discuss what the Platform could do to further support developing countries, taking into account main directions from the four IOs at the highest level as well as the views expressed by Conference participants.

Session IX (Plenary): The way forward: Rising to the challenges of the SDGs, and role of international support and collaboration  

This session will close the Conference with a discussion on how possible tax reforms can contribute to accomplishing the SDGs and on the complementary role that international tax cooperation may play. It should cover the work of international and regional organizations, as well as other relevant international initiatives. The session will cover Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), regional agreements, among others.