On 10-12 October 2023, IOTA successfully organised the Forum on Communication with the main theme of "How Digitalisation Reshapes Tax Communication and Unleashes the Power of Technology for Efficient Compliance" in Budapest, Hungary. The 3-day meeting provided a great opportunity to explore how IOTA member tax administrations adapt to new digital communication channels and how these tools improve trust and connection with taxpayers. The hybrid event was joined by over 40 communication experts from 28 IOTA member tax administrations gathered in person at the venue and more than 80 attendees connected online to the activity.
Welcome remarks by Alix Perrignon de Troyes, Executive Secretary of IOTA set the floor for the Forum which featured speakers from various IOTA member tax administrations including Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, it was an honor to welcome Michaela Sullivan-Paul as an online guest speaker from the OECD's Science, Technology, and Innovation Directorate.
Over recent years, the communications landscape has changed, and the way tax administrations update taxpayers and publish information has been transformed. In this new tax communication environment digitalisation is a necessity as the use of new digital communication channels is crucial, which is based more and more on technology, apps, social media, IT tools, AI technology, and more. On the first day of the event, Forum participants explored the IOTA member countries' experiences with digital communication channels, in this session, the floor was opened for country presentations firstly by Finland, Italy, Portugal, and then Bulgaria along with Spain.
- Finland: Using AI for content creation: first experiences of the Finnish Tax Administration co-presented by Terhi Karttunen & Outi Toijanniemi;
- Italy: The Italian Revenue Agency's digital communication strategy to connect with taxpayers presented by Giulia Marconi;
- Portugal: Enhancing voluntary compliance through digital services – the Portuguese communication strategy co-presented by Alexandra Isabel Gonçalves & Margarida Fonseca;
- Bulgaria: Digital Communication Channels Used by the National Revenue Agency in Bulgaria presented by Gabriela Tsatsarova;
- Spain: Improving forms of digital communication co-presented by Maria Teresa Bernácer & Gema Jiménez Martín.
The second day of the Forum brought another group of insightful presentations focusing on IOTA member country experiences in measuring the effect and impact of digital communication tools. A significant milestone also unfolded at the event with the reveal of the IOTA Report on Communication and Nudging Techniques. This freshly released Report explains how IOTA member tax administrations use nudging techniques in their taxpayer communication activities as well as how the effects of these techniques are analysed to understand the impact and the ethical considerations made in the design phase. The Report is based on data provided by 25 IOTA member tax administrations participating in Country Surveys conducted between June and September 2022 and was written and prepared by the Subgroup of the IOTA Forum on Communication. The nine members of the Subgroup include Christian Rydal Kirkebæk, Denmark; Andrew Murray, Ireland; Alessandra Gambadoro, Italy; Agnè Jakubauskaitè, Lithuania; Dinda Maas, the Netherlands; Bente K. Tranberg, Norway; Nina Serdarevic, Norway; Ramon Domingo Palacios, Spain; and Nancy Brewster, United Kingdom. We do believe and hope this Report will provide tax administrations with a greater understanding of IOTA members’ approaches to nudging techniques and how these techniques can be applied more widely. During this dedicated session to the Report, the following presentation reflected on the publication:
- Subgroup Presentation of key results from the Report on Communication and Nudging Techniques co-presented by Christian Rydal Kirkebæk, Denmark; Nina Serdarevic, Norway; Agnė Jakubauskaitė, Lithuania & Alessandra Gambadoro, Italy.
- OECD: Ethical BI for Taxation Communications: applying the OECD's Good Practice Principles presented by Michaela Sullivan-Paul;
- United Kingdom: How Behavioural Insights informed a new digital interactive guidance tool for UK taxpayers presented by Faith O’Rorke & Soma Chaudhury.
In the latter half of this day, speakers focused on their administrations’ experiences in measuring the effect and impact of digital communication tools. The following country presentations covered this topic:
- United Kingdom: Transforming HMRC’s digital services: how communications changed customer behaviour presented by Rachel Forster;
- Norway: How to avoid 50% Tax - the fairytale of the Tax card presented by Bente Karmann Tranberg;
- Lithuania: Digital Communication by Default: What Now? Presented by Irma Juškaitė;
- Romania: Communication with taxpayers in digital era presented by Lucian Neacsu.
The closing day of the Forum took further the previous day’s topic and explored two pilot projects from Sweden and the IOTA Secretariat:
- Norway: How to communicate about sanctions? Presented by Nina Serdarevic
- Sweden: Presentation of a pilot project – How to get influencers and content producers to spread your message about income tax declaration through podcasts, TikTok, and YouTube co-presented by Maria Ekman & Jimmy Gustafsson;
- IOTA Secretariat: Presentation of a pilot project - IOTA Blog – The latest communication development on the IOTA’s horizon presented by Erika Szabó.
The presentations on both days were supported by group discussions as Forum attendees were also actively involved in an open debate on the last day in order to share lessons learned and discuss the main benefits of the 3-day technical activity. All the materials, presentations, and event recordings are now available on the event’s webpage. This event was moderated by the IOTA Communication Specialist Erika Szabó & supported by the IOTA International Taxation Expert Massimo Morarelli. We would also like to express our gratitude to Andras Lang-Miticzky, photographer of the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration (NTCA) for capturing our best moments during the meeting.