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Global Trends – Technology Reduced the Tax Compliance Burden on Business Globally

Globally, the use of technology, by business and government, in tax compliance is driving continued simplification and reduction in the burden of tax compliance on businesses.

The World Bank and PwC report finds that the time to comply declined by 5 hours to 240 hours; and the number of payments by one to 24 payments.

The global average Total Tax & Contribution Rate (TTCR) increased slightly since last the last study (Paying Taxes 2018: 40.5%, Paying Taxes 2017: 40.4%). More economies showed an increase in TTCR than a reduction – 52 compared to 36 (no change in Georgia). For the first time since 2004, the TTCR for taxes other than labour and profit taxes increased. Other taxes would include property taxes, road taxes, environmental fees, municipality charges, property transfer taxes and any other small charge.

Both the time and number of payments needed to comply have continued to fall significantly, reflecting the increasing use of technology. Time needed to comply with labour and profit taxes fell by 2 hours (to 61 hours for profit taxes and 87 hours for labour taxes), compared to last year, with labour taxes showing the greatest reduction over the life of the study (since Doing Business 2006). Electronic filing and payment, improved tax and accounting software and pre-populated returns are amongst the key drivers.

The number of tax payments made has fallen by around one payment for the second year in a row, driven largely by increased on-line filing and payments capabilities, new web portals and the greater use by taxpayers of online systems.

Despite sizeable changes in the global average results, many economies, particularly in the lower income range, have been slower to take full advantage of the benefits of technology. The study also notes an increase in the use of real, or near real time information systems by tax authorities to track transactions, for example in Russia, the Republic of Korea and China.

Real time data is giving tax authorities the opportunity to scrutinize transactions on a near real-time basis rather than relying on reviews of annual tax returns. New real-time systems may add to compliance times as they are first implemented, but they have the potential to lead to fewer audits or to faster VAT refunds in the future.