The African Tax Administrations Forum features an extensive background in rendering technical assistance to the tax administrations from numerous member-countries, including the sub-national tax administrations, customs and exceptionally, ATAF non-member countries.
Different types of technical assistance are provided:
Through mutual cooperation among tax administrations managed or coordinated by the Executive Secretariat,through the technical assistance rendered directly by ATAF permanent officials,Through projects managed by consultants, who in their majority are or have been officials from tax administrations with broad background on different processes and fields.
The areas in terms of technical assistance are multiple, and include: preparing reform projects on specific or global aspects of tax policy; institutional consolidation and improvement of the tax administrations, including the creation of agencies with different degrees of autarchy and their merging with other tax management areas like customs; optimization of the substantial Tax Administration proceedings, including, among others, collection, compliance control, auditing, enforced collection, taxpayer assistance; incorporation of risk management models and procedures; design and implementation of organizational structures; design and implementation of tax careers and other human resources processes; and in the use of ICT, for specific purposes as well as the development of integral management systems.
Owing to their magnitude, middle and long-term cooperation projects are executed under the following two modalities:
In these projects, the counterpart is also involved in project execution. In such cases, the ATAF Executive Secretariat manages the project, and upon request of the counterpart, enters into services or purchase agreements, with or without technical participation in defining the agreement documents, terms of reference or bid assessments; it carries the accounting records; manages revolving funds; or acts as supervisor or guarantor of the project quality. As compensation, ATAF collects an amount that may be calculated as a percentage of the actual amount spent or a regular fixed amount.
In this type of projects, the ATAF Executive Secretariat is responsible for rendering services, developing deliverables or building software. Likewise, it assumes responsibility for the quality of the products developed and services rendered. The price and turnaround time for these projects are determined at the time of subscribing the agreements, and may only be revisited by agreement of the parties. On certain occasions, these projects are carried forward on the basis of public bids and entail high-financial risk for the institution.
Remote Technical Assistance on Specific Issues
The simplest form of technical assistance is rendered via direct communication among officials of the Tax Administration and ATAF.
ATAF relies on two electronic services to process formal queries on general topics and is developing a system for specific queries to identify the competent authority in a member country for the negotiation of double taxation and information exchange agreements.
Additionally, ATAF relies on a video conferencing platform based on low-cost technologies that enable virtual working meetings with up to 16 participants requiring only Internet access and a modern browser.
Likewise, these assistance tasks may be developed during visits from officials from the tax administrations to ATAF headquarters.
These activities are conducted at no cost for the tax administrations of member-countries o associate-members.
Member-countries have shown interest in learning from experiences that other tax administrations have gathered on specific matters. In this case, a country submits a request to perform a technical visit to a given Tax Administration. When the country wishes to improve a specific area of development but does not know about the most interesting experiences on the matter, the ATAF Executive Secretariat identifies and suggests countries of greater relevance, based on their developments in the area or similarities of the tax system or competencies. Additionally, the Executive Secretariat coordinates relations among the administrations to materialize such experiences.
On occasions, the country benefiting from the assistance may be interested in receiving an official from the other Tax Administration to transfer the knowledge and expertise, whether in the form of workshops or on-the-job training, rather than sending one or a small group of officials for a visit.
The travel costs arising from this assistance modality shall be assumed by the beneficiary country. There are no costs for ATAF coordination in this activity.
The tax administrations may request technical assistance to be delivered directly by Executive Secretariat officials. In this context, the participation of ATAF officials shall not exceed 50-hours monthly.
The Tax Administration requesting this assistance shall cover the travel and per diem expenses of officials and the direct and indirect costs of the official/s for the time the Executive Secretariat invests in rendering the assistance.
In the case of project execution, ATAF renders technical assistance services on tax issues to serve the needs and interests of member-countries and associate member-countries, through diagnostics, support and project assessments, aimed at strengthening their tax administrations.
These activities are structured into projects and defined as regards their coverage, responsibilities, deliverables, terms and costs, in contracts, memoranda of understanding or global cooperation agreements into which specific projects are incorporated in the form of addenda.
Such projects are coordinated by the Directorate for Technical Assistance and International Cooperation through the Technical Assistance Office and are materialized by the participation of consultants. Consultants who participate in such projects are part of the organization's consultant base, officials or former officials from tax administrations, who, under the coordination and leadership of ATAF, carry out the activities established in the agreements.
The costs of this modality are established on a case by case basis, and include expense items such as advances, insurance and contingencies. The cost structure is normally presented to the Tax Administration receiving the assistance. ATAF charges between 10% and 20% of the contract amount for management and supervision fees.