Mario Pessoa, Andrew Okello, Artur Swistak, Muyangwa Muyangwa, Virginia Alonso-Albarran, and Vincent de Paul Koukpaizan
The value-added tax (VAT) has the potential to generate significant government revenue. Despite its intrinsic self-enforcement capacity, many tax administrations find it challenging to refund excess input credits, which is critical to a well-functioning VAT system. Improperly functioning VAT refund practices can have profound implications for fiscal policy and management, including inaccurate deficit measurement, spending overruns, poor budget credibility, impaired treasury operations, and arrears accumulation.This note addresses the following issues: (1) What are VAT refunds and why should they be managed properly? (2) What practices should be put in place (in tax policy, tax administration, budget and treasury management, debt, and fiscal statistics) to help manage key aspects of VAT refunds? For a refund mechanism to be credible, the tax administration must ensure that it is equipped with the strategies, processes, and abilities needed to identify VAT refund fraud. It must also be prepared to act quickly to combat such fraud/schemes.
A well-designed regional tax treaty to which developing countries are signatories will include provisions securing minimum withholding taxes on investment income and technical service fees, a taxing right in respect of capital gains from indirect offshore transfers, and guarding against-treaty shopping. A tax treaty policy framework—national or regional—that specifies the main policy outcomes to be achieved before negotiations commence would enable developing countries with more limited expertise and lower capacity for tax treaty negotiations to avoid concluding problematic tax treaties. This note provides guidance for members of regional economic communities in the developing world on what should and should not be included in a regional tax treaty and how to design on a common tax treaty policy framework for use in negotiations of bilateral tax treaties with nonmembers.