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Tax Collection & Taxpayer Rights in the Post-COVID World


On May 18-20, 2022, the Center for Taxpayer Rights will be convening the 7th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights, once again in a virtual online format.  We are very excited about this year’s conference, which will focus on an under-studied area of tax administration, namely the actual collection of tax.  I have always believed that for many taxpayers, especially low- and moderate-income individuals and small businesses, the audit process and assessment of additional tax liabilities is theoretical.  It is when the tax agency starts levying on one’s bank account, or garnishing one’s paycheck, that taxes become real.

That’s where taxpayer rights have an important role to play.  And that is what we will explore during the 7th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights: Tax Collection & Taxpayer Rights in the Post-COVID World.  You can see the full agenda and register for the conference here.

We will also be holding a free workshop on The Role of Tax Clinics and Taxpayer Ombuds/Advocates in Protecting Taxpayer Rights in Collection Matters.  This free online workshop will be held on May 16, 2022 and will include clinics and taxpayer advocates and ombuds from around the world.  Anyone interested in starting a clinic or encouraging one’s country or state to create a taxpayer ombuds/advocate will find this workshop helpful and interesting.  It’s also a great forum for sharing experiences and learning from one another.  You can register for the free workshop here.

As noted above, while an audit may result in a tax liability, it is still theoretical until the tax bill actually arrives and payment is expected (or extracted).  And while tax policy attempts to take into account taxpayers’ ability to pay in the form of living allowances and household or child exemptions or credits, individual financial circumstances are often not addressed by either policy or administrative procedures.  Requirements such as pay first, resolve later can seriously impair taxpayers’ access to administrative and judicial review of agency determinations. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the challenge of balancing the state’s collective need for tax revenue to fulfill its responsibility to provide for its citizens with the need to recognize the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that might affect an individual’s ability to contribute to that collective need.  This balancing also applies to business entities where the added factor of competitive advantage or disadvantage comes into play.  A further challenge is addressing the imbalance between tax collection from taxpayers who have limited assets or income that nevertheless are easy to identify and levy, and taxpayers who have significant assets and the means to hide those assets or put them beyond the reach of tax authorities.

At the conference we will explore how agencies can address these challenges while respecting taxpayer rights.  We will cover various aspects of tax collection, including the state’s authority to collect, the statutory periods of limitation for collection, the exemption of income and assets from collection, the availability of alternatives to full payment of tax, the use of amnesties, settlements, and bankruptcy, and the availability of judicial review of agency collection actions.  We will also look at the tools available for international collection, the use of artificial intelligence and data mining to identify both those who are at risk of not affording basic living expenses and those who have the ability to pay.  Finally, we will discuss the impact of enforced collection actions and other approaches to collection on taxpayers’ willingness to pay and on tax morale.  The framework for these analyses will be the application of taxpayer and human rights principles to the collection of tax.

The 7th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights (ICTR) is part of a series in which we covered taxpayer protections in the audit process at the 5th ICTR in May 2021 and taxpayer rights as human rights at the 6th ICTR in October 2021, and will cover access to judicial review at the 8th ICTR in May 2023.  We have a number of really interesting videos of panel discussions from the 5th ICTR and 6th ICTR posted on our website and YouTube channel.  You really should check them out.

So, click here to see the agenda and register.  We’ve kept the registration fees very low and have discounts for JD/LLM/PhD students as well as for attendees from non-OECD countries.  The ICTR is a unique experience – people from all over the world attend to discuss taxpayer rights.  I hope to “see” you there! 



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