Organised and international tax crime is a serious threat to all countries, both developing and developed. Tax evasion undermines public finances essential for economic growth and recovery; it erodes trust and confidence in government among law-abiding taxpayers; and the proceeds of tax crime can be used by criminal gangs to fund other forms of illicit activity, including corruption, smuggling and terrorism.
In response to this threat, heads of tax crime investigation in 44 countries – as well as the Financial Action Task Force and World Customs Organisation – have come together this week at Europol headquarters in The Hague for the second meeting of the OECD Forum of Heads of Tax Crime Investigation.
Opening the event, OECD Deputy Secretary General William Danvers said "The financial impact of tax crime is vast, but the effects go deeper than simple economics. The full cost of this crime weighs on normal people. These issues are a key priority across the OECD." Speaking of the problem of international tax evasion, Europol Deputy Director Will van Gemert said "We cannot ignore any longer this 'inconvenient truth' as it is not going to disappear spontaneously and the effects of tax crime on civil society as a whole become more and more apparent."
Over two days, officials at the event focused on key threats and challenges faced by all countries in the fight against international tax evasion, including issues of identity theft, the illicit tobacco trade, the use of virtual currencies for illegal activity, and the role of professional advisers in organised crime. The meeting also addressed questions of how tax crime investigation authorities can work more closely together and with international organisations, sharing intelligence to counter the activities of criminals.
Recognising that not all jurisdictions have the resources necessary to detect and investigate tax crime effectively and successfully, heads also welcomed the establishment of the OECD International Academy for Tax Crime Investigation, which was launched in June 2014 to build the skills of tax crime investigators and other government officials, particularly in developing countries.