What we’re working on: e-government controls on business transactions

  • 31 October 2018

As government services become increasingly digitalised, businesses are faced with evolving trends and strategic questions.

One of the most significant digital transformations of recent years is the tendency of companies to increasingly access software by connecting to remote servers—commonly referred to as the ’cloud’. Companies worldwide are increasingly using cloud-managed services, which provide software as an online service rather than licensing and installing the software on a computer.

And it is not just businesses that are seeing the benefits of using of this technology. Governments are also using cloud services for improving the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of public services. For instance, some tax administrations have started auditing invoices while they are being processed by business applications rather than years later, as has historically been the case.

A silent global revolution

Many countries have already introduced regulatory mandates where suppliers and buyers must integrate their business transaction systems with a cloud platform operated or controlled by a tax administration. Transaction data such as digital invoices must then be sent to that platform for automated pre-approval at defined steps.

This move towards what ICC calls ‘continuous transaction controls’ has been the start of a silent global revolution in tax compliance. The trend is also spreading functionally—from invoices to data from physical and financial supply chains—and from tax administrations to other law enforcement authorities. This is creating interesting dynamics where complex business systems and processes need to adapt to information and communications technology systems designed by the public sector.

ICC considers this trend as a key strategic business topic with great potential to increase the efficiency of business and government operations in general. Unfortunately, there are currently high risks and substantive costs to companies—engendering broader economic implications—due to a lack of coordination among the governments issuing such continuous transaction control platforms.

This is why ICC has convened an expert group of public and private practitioners to advance the common goal of reducing tax burdens on business while also facilitating tax collection by countries. Among ICC’s institutional partners is the Inter-American Center of Tax Administrations, which actively participates in this work.

The working group on continuous electronic government controls on business transactions is drafting an issues paper to capture significant trends and level-set the discussion with recommendations on future action. ICC hopes this group will be a launching board for collaborative action on ensuring continuous transaction controls are a benefit, not a hindrance, to business supply chains and government operations.