03 October 2019
Posteado en : Interview
We interview Jesús Gastón, general director of the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT) of Spain, who tells us about the importance of international cooperation in relation to tax agencies, and the benefits for citizens
How important is the Assembly of the Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations (CIAT) for the Spanish administration?
Basically, the objective is to analyse all the factors related to human resources since, for tax administrations, their people are the main value they have. Often, we talk about the importance of information in managing tax systems, but our staff is the best thing we have. We have to take care of them, we have to understand how to process the best professionals, get enough of them, and use their work and that of other organizations. In short, get them to help us move forward in an increasingly changing world.
What contribution has the State Tax Administration Agency of Spain made to the CIAT Assembly?
We have extensive experience in participating in international forums, we know the European and American experience, and we try to learn from others while also explaining the steps we are taking to achieve an ever more professional staff, better trained and more adapted to the challenges of tax administration, and what we do is share our experience with others.
In the middle of the era of technology, where it is practically on a pedestal, it is striking that the reflection is on the human factor. How do the two pillars come into play in daily work?
Technology helps because it allows certain conflictive workers to be able to work in a much simpler way, but it also constitutes a very important challenge because the staff has to adapt to the technological changes, since otherwise we would be unable to take advantage of those changes. It is therefore critical to analyse the two factors together.
How important is international cooperation in tax matters, taxation, tax collection, collaboration between countries…?
It is decisive these days because the world is increasingly open and global. We need to coordinate our regulations to avoid the occurrence of tax evasion, aggressive tax fragmentation worldwide, and the existence of tax havens. And then the tax administrations have to share information, exchange it because companies, especially the largest, operate globally, and for them there is no reference country, rather they have to deal with many. Then we find that companies are global, but tax systems and tax administrations are local or national. The only way to deal with this problem is to act in an increasingly coordinated manner and exchange that information.
Cuba and its tax organization, with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT), is making a great effort in moving forward on this matter. There is an exchange programme of experts from the EU and Cuba in which Spain is actively participating. How does it look to you right now?
We have always collaborated very closely with Cuba, including, of course, in taxes. We have now been collaborating with the National Tax Administration Office (ONAT) for several years to help them in this process of change that all we tax administrations must now face by training our staff and incorporating new technologies. We have been helping them not only with human resources, but also with collection, taxpayer assistance, improving legal safeguards, and with procedure, and, indeed, we will continue to collaborate along all the lines that are considered a priority by the Cuban administration so that they achieve a goal as important as providing better service to citizens while also controlling the economic situation of the tax system .
In that sense, we always talk about social responsibility, the impact of citizens on tax policies. What are the benefits that citizens should take into account in their tax system?
The main goal of tax systems is to provide resources to public administrations, since these resources are essential to providing services to citizens. Education, health and infrastructure depend largely on the payment of taxes, and what needs to be done is to help the taxpayer who wants to fulfil their tax obligations, and one way to help them is not only by providing the service, but also obligating those who try to avoid taxes to pay them.
We talked about the impact of the benefits that the citizen obtains from having a tax system.
The main aim of tax systems is to provide revenue to public administrations so that they can provide services to citizens, such as health, education and infrastructure, and what tax administrations have to do is help taxpayers who want to comply so that it is as easy as possible to fulfil that obligation. An indirect way to help them is also by obligating those who do not want to pay the taxes they owe to do so as a result of the tax administration’s monitoring actions all for the benefit of all citizens through better services.
14 June 2018
Posteado en : Opinion
The cross-border nature of the crimes faced by customs surveillance requires international cooperation and coordination efforts by the institutions responsible
In Spain, the Customs Surveillance Service is a Sub-Directorate General attached to the Tax Agency’s Customs and Excise Duties Department and belonging to the Ministry of Finance and Public Function. It is made up of officials who are considered law enforcement officers (customs and excise officers and judicial police officers) who work all over Spain and in its airspace and territorial waters. The tasks it undertakes essentially consist of curbing petty and large-scale smuggling and combatting drug trafficking and other similar crimes, money laundering, tax evasion and the informal economy. All of these have an increasingly global dimension.
In regard to international cooperation on customs surveillance, coordination and cooperation between national and European bodies and with third states are of vital importance , both in general for the public and the State and in particular for the organisations involved in this cooperation, such as the Tax Agency’s Sub-Directorate General of Customs Surveillance.
The scale of the illegal activities dealt with by us as an organisation takes various forms: firstly, because these are activities that extend beyond state borders and, secondly, because the perpetrators take advantage of the differences in legislation between the states and look for loopholes so that they can carry on their criminal activities.
In this sense, therefore, the fight against this complex type of crime faces many difficulties, although it tends to end in success. In most cases, the flow of information and the coordination between the operational resources of the different countries are what makes this success possible.
The twinning project named “Improving maritime surveillance in Turkish customs”, which is managed by FIIAPP, is currently taking place between the Spanish and Turkish customs services. The project is intended to improve the knowledge and techniques of both States so as to bring about internal improvement and implement new techniques and new operational tactics in our searches and routine work that will help us to devise and have a new vision of how we can operate against these mafias.
Laura Rebollo Villarino is the head of Air and Sea Operations and CECOP, which report to the Tax Agency’s Sub-Directorate General of Customs Surveillance
About the Project
The aim of the Improving Maritime Surveillance in Turkish Customs project, which is financed by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP in collaboration with Douanes & Droits Indirects, is to try to improve the surveillance ability of Turkey’s maritime customs service. It also seeks to ensure that the country fulfils the obligations in this area set by the European Union for Member States.
Since last November, experts from Spain’s IEF (Institute of Fiscal Studies) and AEAT (State Tax Administration Agency) have been working with their Turkish counterparts to improve the skills and procedures of the country’s customs surveillance, from illegal trade to forgery and other related offences. Spain and Turkey have similarities in this area as both countries have a long coastline and also have to cope with a strait that forms a bottleneck for shipping. Both countries also form a bridge between two continents, so that the risks and threats they face are very similar.