New Year’s Greetings from the Executive Secretary of IOTA

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Dear Colleagues and Members of IOTA,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the beginning of the year 2024. As the new year is now fully underway, I wanted to take stock of the milestones achieved in 2023 and express my sincere gratitude for your dedication and contributions to our organisation.

A person with glasses and a computerDescription automatically generatedIt is also the perfect time to reflect on the 2023 work programme and the opportunities for growth and achievements that lie ahead in 2024.

In 2023, IOTA faced several challenges including the implementation of our new Strategy for 2023-2027, the development of the IOTA Web Portal and preparation for its launch, and the relocation of our Secretariat to a new office after 10 years in our old office. On the other hand, 2024 was a welcome return to normality while taking into account the lessons learned from the pandemic. 2023 also saw improvements to IOTA governance via Executive Council workshops dedicated to various topics such as international collaboration, the 3-year modelling budget and the Work Programme Cycle.

Under the framework of the IOTA 2023 Work Programme Activities, IOTA successfully organised a total of 23 events in hybrid, fully face-to-face, and digital formats, as well as delivering 5 projects. The 27th General Assembly of IOTA “Transformation of International Tax System and Tax Administrations“ was held under the Georgian Presidency in the vibrant Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in June. This keynote event was attended in person by over 180 delegates and digitally by over 90 participants from IOTA member tax administrations, along with high-ranking officials and representatives of our international partner organisations (European Commission DG TAXUD, World Customs Organization, IMF, CREDAF, CIAT), tax practitioners, and attendees from the business community and academia. As part of the Technical Session of the General Assembly, delegates also had the unique opportunity to visit the IOTA TechExpo “Digital Transformation in Action”. This exhibition showcased new developments and solutions that can help shape the digital transformation of tax administrations. At the Administrative Session of the General Assembly, the IOTA Strategy was approved along with the budget and the IOTA 2024 Work Programme. Additionally, the members voted to terminate the full membership of Russia and Belarus in IOTA. This decision was made after a 1-year suspension from all IOTA activities and came into effect in June.

For the coming year, the main focus for IOTA will be ensuring the new web portal is successful, ongoing implementation of the 2023–2027 Strategy, addressing the financial issues arising from the budgetary balance and working on increasing the engagement of the members.

Our current web portal was developed almost a decade ago, in 2014, and since then it has undergone several changes. At the time, it was a huge step forward technologically. However, technology moves on and a more recent internal audit recommended that we should look to improve the IOTA website. The IOTA Web Portal Development Project aims at implementing the recommendations and thus increasing engagement of the membership online. As planned, the new web portal will be launched in the second half of January 2024. This website will offer a more immersive user experience along with improved functionality, enable our members to access our content more easily, and be supported by a more reliable underlying “engine”.  We are now on the verge of launching the new IOTA web portal, which is being tested by the Project Team together with the Secretariat and a small group of IOTA members. Once the testing period is over, we will provide an update to the membership about the next steps.

IOTA needs to keep pace and be able to adapt to the diversity of the membership’s needs. The Secretariat must continue to align the Work Programme with the priorities of tax administrations and, in this regard, the process for developing the work programme has been revised. The changes will be fully operational in 2024. The cycle for developing the programme has been reduced so that the implementation of proposals from the membership will be closer to the date the proposal was made.  A  “fast track” process has also been set up to allow a limited number of in-year proposals for technical events to be added to the work programme for the year. Our Peer-to-Peer Technical Assistance Service, which focuses on providing a quick and efficient way to connect potential technical assistance Beneficiaries and Providers, is a service that increases IOTA capacity-building support to its members. This is currently unfunded assistance only, but this year a Pilot Peer-to-Peer Funded Technical Assistance Project will be launched.

Over the last few years, IOTA and OECD have developed an ongoing collaboration which offers valuable opportunities for IOTA non-FTA members to benefit from knowledge sharing and experiences. However, 2023 witnessed a major step forward in that collaboration with the full participation of IOTA in the FTA Community Of Interest, which includes the HR COI,  Tax Debt Management COI, and Capacity Building Network. IOTA is playing an important role in helping its members in the implementation process of new rules and facilitating access of IOTA members to the most up-to-date information on international tax issues. This collaboration helps tax administrations to gain understanding and confidence and ensure consistency and practicality in implementation, particularly for the measures developed under Pillars One and Two. In 2024, IOTA will continue to enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest with major tax organisations such as FTA via activities such as setting up joint events and monitoring the Network of Tax Administrations (NTO) work plans.

A key challenge is to build a more sustainable financial environment for the organisation in the years to come, in line with the 2023-2027 Strategy. The Executive Council have established a Financial Advisory Committee to examine IOTA’s financial situation and propose solutions to ensure its financial sustainability. These will be presented to the 28th General Assembly in June 2024.

Finally, my greatest thanks go to the membership as a whole. I believe that IOTA is an organisation that is nothing without its members and the contributions they make. It has always been driven by and focused on the needs of tax administrations. The engagement of the membership is a key to the success of IOTA. Without this engagement, IOTA would not exist. I strongly believe that IOTA is more than just an organisation – it is a community with common interests and aims.  I am confident in the ability of the Organisation to ensure every member has the opportunity to participate and benefit on an equal footing.

Thank you for making IOTA successful! I wish you and yours a safe, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Alix Perrignon de Troyes  
Executive Secretary of IOTA