OECD Taxation Working Papers N. 39. SIMPLIFIED REGISTRATION AND COLLECTION MECHANISMS FOR TAXPAYERS THAT ARE NOT LOCATED IN THE JURISDICTION OF TAXATION. A REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT
OECD Taxation Working Papers N. 39. SIMPLIFIED REGISTRATION AND COLLECTION MECHANISMS FOR TAXPAYERS THAT ARE NOT LOCATED IN THE JURISDICTION OF TAXATION. A REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT. This paper discusses how the key challenge for jurisdictions seeking to exercise their taxing rights over taxpayers that are not located in the jurisdiction of taxation can be addressed by the use of simplified registration and collection mechanisms. The problem considered by this report – how to collect tax from taxpayers that are not located in the jurisdiction of taxation – is a problem encountered by any tax regime where the jurisdiction asserts taxing rights over a tax base but this jurisdiction has limited power to compel the taxpayer to remit the tax. Although the experience of jurisdictions in addressing this problem has involved primarily consumption taxes, in particular value added taxes (VAT) and retail sales taxes (RST), that experience (and the lessons that can be learned from it) is applicable as well to other tax regimes, whether involving direct or indirect taxes, that confront the same problem. This paper considers two principal approaches to addressing the problem: · Jurisdictions may seek to enlist some other participant involved in the transaction or activity that generates the tax base over which it asserts taxing rights, and over whom it does have enforcement authority to collect the tax or otherwise satisfy the taxpayer’s compliance obligation (e.g., withholding taxes). To this regard, it is shown that, although customers and intermediaries can, in some circumstances, play an important role in the collection of the tax (for example the business customer located in the taxing jurisdiction in the context of a business-to-business transaction or e-commerce marketplaces in the context of business-to-final consumer digital sales), they may be much less efficient in other contexts. Indeed, according to the OECD work (the International VAT/GST Guidelines and the BEPS Action 1 Report Addressing the Challenges of the Digital Economy), customer collection is generally regarded as an inappropriate approach to indirect tax collection in the business-to-consumer (B2C) context given its low level of compliance and its associated costs of enforcement. For analogous reasons, it is also generally recognised that withholding taxes (for example on payment as part of options to address the broader direct tax challenges of the digital economy) are not an effective mechanism for tax collection in the B2C context. · As an alternative, jurisdictions may adopt a taxpayer registration and collection mechanism, and, in light of the absence of enforcement authority over the taxpayer, may seek to make compliance sufficiently easy or attractive to induce taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations. The paper then reviews the simplified registration and collection regimes that jurisdictions have implemented or are about to implement. It is generally recognised that this alternative is more appropriate in the B2C context. Many jurisdictions have implemented (and are in the process of implementing) simplified registration and collection regimes in the B2C context for taxpayers that are not located in the jurisdiction of taxation in the VAT and RST area. Although the evidence regarding the performance of the simplified regimes adopted by jurisdictions is still quite limited, because these regimes generally have only become operational on a widespread basis recently, the best available evidence shows that these simplified regimes work well in practice. According to the most significant experience i.e. the experience in the European Union, a high level of compliance can be achieved and substantial levels of revenue can be collected since there is a concentration of the overwhelming proportion of the revenues at stake in a relatively small proportion of large businesses and since the compliance burden has been reduced as far as possible. Against that background, it is highly likely that an even greater number of jurisdictions will embrace simplified collection regimes in the future, especially in light of the growth of the digital economy and more particularly, B2C digital transactions. In the VAT area, simplified registration and collection mechanisms issues are dealt with in the International VAT/GST Guidelines and the Report on Mechanisms for the Effective Collection of VAT/GST. This paper also notes that compliance costs for small and micro-businesses can be relatively high compared to the proportion of revenues collected from such businesses and that the adoption of thresholds may be an appropriate solution to avoid imposing such a disproportionate administrative burden in light of the relatively modest amount of revenues at stake. It also points out that a good communications strategy is essential to the success of a simplified regime (including appropriate lead-time for implementation). The exchange of information and international administrative co-operation should also play a significant role in both encouraging taxpayers to comply and detecting non-compliance. Hellerstein, W., S. Buydens and D. Koulouri (2018).