How civil society organizations can support the tax and accountability initiatives of revenue authorities
ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS IN
SUPPORTING / INFLUENCING
TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND
BY: ANDREW ITAI CHIKOWORE
1. Capacity Building and Advisory for Tax and
2. Tax Transparency and Information Sharing
3. Tax Payer Education / Sensitization
4. Tax Payer Engagement: Awareness Raising and
5. Accountability of Tax Revenue Expenditures
6. Challenges faced by Civil Society Organizations
7. Direction for future research
A. Capacity Building and Advisory
for Tax and Accountability
• Civil Society Organizations have supported mainly through
• Africa Tax Administration Forum ATAF) is strengthening tax
administration, tax compliance, tax audit and tax record
• Through its capacity building program it is providing training
on tax audit, Tax Treaties – Transfer Pricing and Research
• African Tax Research Network (ATRN) is also providing
Research Methodology training for tax administrators.
Capacity Building and Advisory for
Tax and Accountability
• ActionAid and the Tanzania Tax Justice Coalition (TTJC) is
providing capacity building to Members of Parliament,
Ministry of Finance and the Tanzania Revenue Authority on
the link between tax collection and provision of quality public
Success on capacity building
• Increase in revenue collection in Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe
• The question is on the revenue spending by the governments.
• There are increased debates and engagement by parliamentarians
on tax incentives, scrutinizing tax policy and conducting cost benefit
analysis before granting tax incentives or making policy decisions.
• Tanzania new finance Bill (law) limits the power of the Finance
Minister to grant tax incentives.
• Governments of Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi have
started Double Taxation Agreement re-negotiations and
• Governments (Ministry of Finance in Tanzania) now consults CSOs to
get advise on domestic resource mobilization and participating in
pre-budget consultation processes (budgeting processes and tax
• Tanzania has put in place a fully fledged unit that deals with
international taxation of multinational companies
• Uganda has a unit that focuses on taxation of high net worth
B. Tax Transparency and
• Tax Justice Network Africa, ActionAid and Oxfam are
supporting campaigns to ensure tax transparency and
• To date tax information (Revenue Performance Reports) in
Tanzania and Zimbabwe are published in the newspapers and
revenue authority websites quarterly.
• The Revenue Authorities are now been audited by the Auditor
Generals Office annually.
• Now all tax transactions are conducted electronically to
enhance efficiency and transparency.
• Governments now promoting country-by country reporting of
revenue, assets, employees and other activities to enable
public scrutiny of corporate tax policies
Tax Transparency and Information
• Example of Lack of transparency and information sharing from
the extractive industries in Tanzania
• The government makes mining investment decisions without
consulting the parliament because they are regarded as
strategic investments despite the efforts from civil society for
• This has results in confrontations with communities and other
key stakeholders who feel they are not part of the decision
C. Tax Payer Education /
• Policy Forum, Tax Justice Network Africa and ActionAid are
hosting joint taxpayer education workshops / breakfast
meetings with revenue authorities to sensitize on new /
reviewed tax policies
• Trainings, seminars, road shows and street caravans are some
of the mechanisms used to educate and sensitize tax payers.
• Working closely with media (print and electronic to report on
taxation issues for transparency and accountability purposes.
• In Tanzania tax clubs have been instituted in secondary
schools while tax studies are been instituted as part of
primary school curriculum (tax education).
• Development of simple tax justice content, curricular, tool kits
and training materials for local consumption
• Tax environment scanning, e.g. in Uganda ActionAid sensitized
on the effects of the social media tax, Taxation of bloggers in
Tanzania and tax loopholes in the extractive sector
D. Tax Payer Engagement: Awareness
Raising and Campaigning
• CSOs are raising awareness on the importance of paying tax to
improve public confidence
• In Kenya the National Tax Payers Association was formed in 2007 to
to constructively engage with government and citizens on tax issues
(clarification for the citizens)
• Stakeholder engagement during pre-budget consultative meetings.
• Civil society advocating for review of policies on behalf of the
citizens (voice of the voiceless). E.g. the VAT and Tax Administration
law in Tanzania
• Use of youth and women's forums, debates and community
meetings at local level especially on government expenditure.
• Radio programs involving journalists at local and national level
• Conducted tax online debates through Twitter
• ActionAid – engaged in the tax justice campaign focusing on
on corporate taxation and ending harmful tax incentives
• Pressure has been put on governments to:
1. End the granting of harmful tax incentives resulting in tax
competition and race to the bottom.
2. Establishing tax social movements that fight for tax
transparency and accountability.
3. Making it social indefensible for companies to ask for tax
4. Advocating for parliamentary scrutiny in granting tax
incentives and tax policy and publishing tax incentives
5. Linking tax revenue with the provision of quality public
services (public spending)
Accountability of Tax Revenue
• CSO Budgeting working groups hold governments accountable
for revenue expenditure
• Policy Forum (Tanzania), ZIMCODD (Zimbabwe) SEATINI
(Uganda), are some of the organization analyzing government
tax revenue collection and expenditure and advocating for
• They are responsible for budget recommendation through
• Use of media to hold the government accountable towards
gender responsive Budgeting and public service deriver
• Policy Forum has a platform to meet the Minister of Finance
to deliberate of Tax issues (Progressive taxation )
• In Zimbabwe government expenditure is published in gazettes
as warrant of expenditure
• However, government gazettes are sold and not easily
accessible to everyone
• There is need for CSOs to push for publication of government
expenditure through newspapers, treasury websites and
E. Challenges faced by Civil Society
• Negative perception by government of the involvement of
Civil Society Organization on tax issues (transparency and
• Political interference – risk of been deregistered (shrinking
• Governments are putting tough laws to restrict CSOs to
conduct research, e.g. the Statistics law in Tanzania, Cyber
• Non availability of data on African Tax trends e.g. Women and
Tax , Youth and Tax , and Cost of Tax Avoiding
• Difficult to acquire company tax information and contracts–
risks of libel (E.g. Publish What You Pay initiative).
F. What are the opportunities?
• Financing for Development Agenda – domestic resource
• Progressive taxation to enhance equity
• Solidarity of civil society with with international organizations,
regional blocks (SADC, EAC, ECOWAS, and the African Union.
• Governments has limited resources to develop capacitate of
revenue authorities and Ministry of finance.
• Civil society organization's have capacity to provide policy
G. Direction for Future
• Further research on progressive taxation (Property Tax ,
Wealth Tax , Tax in the formal sector and excise Tax)
• Taxation in the specialized sectors of the economy e.g.
Extractives, telecommunications, financial sector (banking,
insurance, real estate, and non-bank micro-financing
• Taxation and its impact on marginalized groups (including
women and youth and people with disabilities )