Technology and tax administration

A reference publication 

Last year, in another post in our blog, I was letting our community know about a Grant with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that allowed us to undertake a couple of cooperation projects with our African member countries focused on the use of IT. Part of that effort was the intention to prepare of a small document that could serve as a reference on the use of IT as leverage to improve tax administrations’ capacity and effectiveness, particularly in developing countries.

Someone would say that we completely failed in the attempt, at least in part of it. Instead of a small document we ended up with rather a voluminous edition, with seventeen thematic chapters. Probably the outcome is the result of the choice we made when we tried to decide whether we should focus on business processes or in IT management, if we should target tax administration official or IT practitioners that work for tax administrations; if we should describe the “what” or dealing a little bit with the “how”. We decided, maybe because of how technology has influenced our collective behavior in the last couple of decades, to try all those roads, simultaneously. The 500+ pages book we ended up with is, objectively, not small. We hope, however, that it is good and, hopefully, useful.

However, trying to add “objectively” to that last statement is certainly difficult for those of us who helped with the book. That is why we asked for some expert opinion from persons with intensive knowledge and accumulated experience (sorry guys) in the recent evolution of tax administrations. For full disclosure I have to admit that, at the same time, these experts are no strangers to CIAT’s work in the field. We can even say they are friends of CIAT, so their opinions are really objective.

Daniel Alvarez, from the World Bank, said “… At this critical juncture, the flagship report on ICT and efficiency of tax administrations comes along as a valuable toolkit for policy-makers muddling through strategic options and implementation challenges. Different from similar type of endeavors, the report sheds light on a single and comprehensive manner to key foundations and technical aspects to be considered for an effective implementation of ICT solutions to tax administrations.”  (link to full review).

Monica Calijuri, from the Inter-American Development Bank and previously from CAPTAC-DR, said “The good news is that this book offers knowledge and shares experiences to highlight new standards of efficiency and effectiveness in taxation activities. In other words, it is the path toward for the modernization of tax administration processes using ITC. ” (link to full review).

Alberto Barreix, from the Inter-American Development Bank, said “… this work also proposes improvements in relevant and insufficiently developed processes, such as the new methods of auditing based on risk and tax intelligence, electronic registration, collection and filing, and management of the human resources needed for the knowledge economy.” (link to full review).

Nacho Corral, form the Spanish Center for Fiscal Studies, said … it is not a traditional manual. Its great advantage is that it allows the reader, if he so wishes, to read it from beginning to end in order to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the subject. Likewise, it is a document for consulting specific issues without having to read it all.” (link to full review).

Jorge Cosulich, former Executive Secretary at CIAT, said “… I would like to recommend to all our tax administration colleagues from the CIAT countries to read all the chapters that may be of interest to them in this magnificent book. I am sure they will experience the same emotion I felt on being carried away by the great waves of progress and ICT innovation, thereby renewing and updating my knowledge.” (link to full review).

Katherine Baer, from the International Monetary Fund, said … The results of the ISORA survey presented in this book, disclose encouraging examples of the adoption of technologies in medium and low-income countries, which on occasions exceed the developed countries … This publication deals with these issues and affords a tailored-made solution to the needs of any revenue administration, regardless of its level of technological modernization.” (link to full review).  

We know that finding the time to read such a voluminous edition is challenging for many of us these days. To let you know a little bit of each part of the book, and certainly to invite you to read a full chapter, we will be publishing a series of posts in our blog. Each written by one of the chapter’s authors on a lighter tone. To make this invitation wider, particularly for those that prefer images (the book has plenty of them by the way) over letters, we also made a couple of videos.

Finally, I should say that the book will be delivered in electronic format. PDF of course, but it will also be the first CIAT publication prepared for reading devices in proper e-book formats.

Please be ready for download in a few days. I am sure you will find it useful and we hope you share the news with colleagues and friends. After all, it is free, and that is also objectively good.

In a more serious tone, it is time to thanks the Gates Foundation for their trust in CIAT. This book is a product of a relationship that we expect to consolidate even more. We would also want to express our gratitude to the writers and editors who truly supported this project.

Thank you and good luck.


Disclaimer. Readers are informed that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organization, committee or other group the author might be associated with, nor to the Executive Secretariat of CIAT. The author is also responsible for the precision and accuracy of data and sources.


  1. Celso Antonio Mora Reply

    Felicitaciones y agradecimientos a los colegas del CIAT, siempre pendientes de mantener en el estado de arte a nuestras administraciones tributarias y a los que vivimos interesados en estos temas.
    La lectura de estos prolegómenos que se han presentado más arriba, entusiasma a esperar expectantes la publicación del documento completo, el que esperamos leer con fruición , aprovechando, quizá, estos días semi-confinamiento.

    En hora buena.

  2. Socorro Velazquez Reply

    As a contributing member of this publication, I may be biased with my comments. But the more I read through it, the more I learn. Yes, I have yet to meet anyone who knows everything there is to know about tax administration. However, this publication may have captured all possible applications of technology in tax administration and even more. For example, Chapter 4.2 addresses tax collection. And in order to look at it from a technological tools approach, it first visits the traditional ways of collecting taxes; even, rudimentary designs.

    Bottom line, the publication is not strictly about the application of XML-like topics, which may immediately turn off some readers. It’s about what tax administration was, is, and can for greater efficiency through the use of technology. I will admit, it’s an elephant in its volume. But over time we can eat an elephant one bite at a time. (No offense to the conservationist.) So, open a chapter, any chapter, and glance at a few pages every other day until you find something you like. I’ll guarantee you you’ll find something you’ll like.

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