Building tax compliance in international cooperation

By engaging in international cooperation, we can have an impact on decisions made on an international scale, obtain information, and exchange experiences and ideas regarding challenges, successful practices, and any problems that may arise.

The goal of international activities is to obtain benefits for the Finnish Tax Administration and society at large. Another goal is to help to strengthen Finland’s image as a pioneer in good governance.

International stakeholder cooperation took a global digital leap in spring and shifted to online meetings

International stakeholder cooperation has previously meant physical meetings across the globe, with only few meetings having been held in virtual environments. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, international organisations and tax administrations took a rapid digital leap, and meetings were transferred to online platforms immediately in March and April 2020. However, this change was not completely free of challenges, because there are many online platforms available, some of which involve information security problems.

At the COVID-19 meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held in April, we demonstrated our remote working practices and our rapid shift to remote working throughout the Finnish Tax Administration in March. This raised significant attention among other tax administrations and, since April, we have held several country-specific meetings to share our remote working skills.

The OECD started the new Commissioner Conversations article series by interviewing our Director General Markku Heikura regarding our remote working practices.

This digital leap was also global, and our development cooperation project with the tax administration of Tanzania has continued by means of online missions, meetings, and training. Virtual training has been a particular success.

Finland chaired the 2020 Nordic Agenda

Nordic cooperation between tax administrations has been organised under the Nordic Agenda. Goals of this cooperation include tax compliance, service, and effectiveness. Cooperation is being carried out through 20 projects and working groups that meet regularly.

Key accomplishments during Finland’s presidency:

  • launching the update of the Nordisk eTax website under Finland’s leadership
  • article on preventing identity misuse published at vero.fi
  • Nordic training to identify money laundering and terrorist financing
  • a Nordic overview of coronavirus threats, which has been used in Finland in cooperation with the National Bureau of Investigation and Finnish Customs.

Finland also held the annual Nordic meeting of Director Generals, this time in a virtual environment.

The Finnish Tax Administration is supporting the tax administration of Cyprus in its off-the-shelf software project

The Tax Administration’s VALMIS project, during which the Tax Administration’s internal data systems and its customers’ electronic services were updated, has for years raised interest internationally. We have held a number of workshops, hosted visits and presented our project at international meetings.

In September, we launched a project funded by the EU’s DG Reform to support the tax administration of Cyprus in its off-the-shelf software project. The support project will take three years and involve some 15 Tax Administration specialists in different fields as part-time project members. The support project will be carried out in close cooperation with HAUS International.