financing-for-developmentTax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), convened at the Third International Conference On Financing For Development back in July, is a joint operation between the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme.

TIWB will play a vital role in unlocking billions of dollars over the 15-year course of the Sustainable Development Goals.

TIWB’s strategy has evolved out of the revelation that every year, roughly $3 trillion in government revenue goes uncollected due to tax avoidance.

IMF researchers estimate that developing nations lose $213 billion each year for those reasons. Finding a way to get their hands on that money could help those governments invest more in education, health, energy, infrastructure and the like.

Tax law can be dense, confusing and hard to follow, especially when multinationals make it that way on purpose. For this reason, TIWB will send in highly trained tax accountants and audit specialists that will work with national tax agencies. They will strengthen tax audit capabilities and help design smarter tax policies.

The details are less exciting than the results.

Pilot projects are underway in Europe, Latin America and Africa, all of which are helping national governments increase revenue stream that will be vital for financing the Sustainable Development Goals. The numbers speak for themselves. From 2011 to 2014, tax revenue in Colombia increased from $3.3 million to $33.2 million.

TIWB is extending the hard work of previous initiatives including the Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation and the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

They all arose in an environment where multinationals are gaining in power and influence and governments around the world are strapped for cash. In trying to rebalance the scales, they are looking for everyone to pay their fair share.

The money that will come from more effective regulation will be crucial for funding the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the expertise and training that the TIWB will provide to developing country governments around the world is an extension of the philosophy embodied in the SDGs themselves.

This form of technical training and capacity building will lead to more professionals in developing countries and their skills will become necessary to help their countries develop.

John Wachter

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, OECD 1, OECD 2, UNDP
Photo: TaxLinked