A century since the League of Nations first began to discuss international taxation, global tax governance has reached a critical juncture. As the OECD’s Inclusive Framework negotiations draw towards a conclusion, there is a sense that the decade-long experiment to reform international tax rules has disappointed.
While the outcome includes numerous changes to accommodate lower-income countries, it redistributes few taxing rights to them, creates more complexity, and comes at considerable cost in terms of tax sovereignty. One of four holdout countries, Kenya, has now signed on, apparently as a condition of trade negotiations with the US. There is a growing appetite for more radical redistribution and simplification, which is unlikely to be satisfied by the “two-pillar” solution.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the Committee of Experts is setting a different course, and expanding their agenda to include topics such as wealth and environmental taxes. Intergovernmental discussions set to begin in 2023 could lead to a new global tax convention that reshapes the landscape. At the regional level, African Union is beginning to build on ATAF’s strong presence in multilateral negotiations, while the Colombian government has initiated regional discussions in Latin America and the Caribbean. Some countries are becoming emboldened to adopt unilateral measures that break with the historical consensus, notably in the taxation of the digital economy.
At this critical moment, the International Centre for Tax and Development is hosting a conference in Nairobi from June 5-7th titled ‘Global Tax Governance at a Crossroads’ in partnership with the Kenya School of Revenue Administration. The event will bring together more than 130 researchers and key actors in tax policy and administration from around the globe to debate key questions and discuss pertinent issues.
As Dr Martin Hearson, the ICTD’s Research Director says, “I’m excited that at this moment, where there is a real debate about the future of international cooperation, we’re bringing together so many experts and practitioners that are at the forefront of research and policy. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to debate what lower-income countries need.”
The event will be held at the Serena Hotel with the opening ceremony expected to commence on Monday June 5th, at 9:00am. The event will be graced by the Acting Commissioner General of the KRA Rispah Simiyu, the Commissioner of KESRA Mwirigi Mugambi, National Treasury representatives, and the Deans of the law schools of the University of Nairobi and Strathmore University alongside executives from the ICTD. Journalists will be allowed to cover the event and attend both panel sessions that day, the second of which will address Kenya’s successes and challenges in international taxation, and what other countries can learn from its experience.
The International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) is an independent research centre focused on improving tax policy and administration in lower-income countries. We support our partners in raising more revenue to fund public services in ways that are equitable, efficient, and strengthen accountability.