This report sets out the 10 essential principles for effectively fighting tax crimes. It covers the legal, institutional, administrative, and operational aspects necessary for putting in place an efficient system for fighting tax crimes and other financial crimes. It draws on the insights and experience of jurisdictions around the world. The purpose is to allow jurisdictions to benchmark their legal and operational framework, and identify areas where improvements can be made. Future work in this area will include adding country specific details, covering a wide range of countries.
This is the first comprehensive guide to fighting tax crimes. It sets out ten global principles, covering the legal, strategic, administrative and operational aspects of addressing tax crimes. The guide has been prepared by the OECD Task Force on Tax Crimes and Other Crimes (TFTC). It draws on the experience of the members of the TFTC as well as additional survey data provided by 31 jurisdictions: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The guide shows that the fight against tax crime is being actively pursued by governments around the world. Jurisdictions have comprehensive laws that criminalise tax offences, and the ability to apply strong penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, asset forfeiture and a range of alternative sanctions. Jurisdictions generally have a wide range of investigative and enforcement powers as well as access to relevant data and intelligence. Suspects’ rights are nearly universally understood in the same way and enshrined in law.
Increasingly, jurisdictions are taking a strategic approach to addressing tax offences, which includes targeting key risks and leveraging the tools for co-operation with other law enforcement agencies, both domestically and internationally. At the same time, tax crime investigations increasingly need to be undertaken with greater efficiency and fewer resources. However, data shows that the investment is worthwhile, with some jurisdictions being able to calculate the return on investment from the criminal tax investigation teams and reporting recovery of funds well in excess of the expenditure, ranging from 150% to 1500% return on investment.
The role played by criminal tax investigators thus contributes significantly to jurisdiction’s overall tax compliance efforts. The implementation of the 10 global principles around the world is critical in addressing the tax gap and supporting domestic resource mobilisation.
This guide recommends that jurisdictions benchmark themselves against each of the ten global principles. This includes identifying areas where changes in law or operational aspects are needed, such as increasing the type of investigative or enforcement powers, expanding access to other government-held data, devising or updating the strategy for addressing tax offences, and taking greater efforts to measure the impact of the work they do.
In particular, developing jurisdictions are encouraged to use the guide as a diagnostic tool to identify principles which may not yet be in place. Jurisdictions which have made commitments to capacity building for developing jurisdictions in tax matters (such as the Addis Tax Initiative or the G7 Bari Declaration) are recommended to consider how they can work with developing jurisdictions to enhance tax crime investigation based on this guide, including through providing support for the OECD International Academy for Tax Crime Investigation and other regional initiatives.
The TFTC will continue its work in facilitating international co-operation on fighting tax crime, particularly on issues where multilateral action is required to address common challenges.
This could also include collaborating to create an agreed strategy for addressing tax crimes that have cross-border elements. Such a strategy could include identifying the risks of such tax crimes, defining the additional data and other mechanisms that are needed to more effectively combat such tax crimes and working towards ensuring that data and mechanisms are available and efficient in practice.