Anti Corruption

Tax Amnesty for NGOs ends on October 28, 2018. Use CFAC and clear your back taxes and penalties!

The Government of Afghanistan’s Tax Amnesty program ends on October 28, 2018. Citizens’ Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) has been providing free technical and legal advice to NGOs that wish to take advantage of the Tax Amnesty program of the Ministry of Finance and obtain clearances of their back taxes and penalties from 2001 through to 2017.

CFAC offers the following services:  

  1. Assistance in filling the tax forms, preparing documents and organizing the tax dossier
  2. Completing the checklist for dossier submission to the Ministry of Finance
  3. Accompanying tax clearance applicants to the Ministry of Finance and providing technical and legal advice as necessary

CFAC provides the services of a Tax Specialist and a Lawyer when necessary.

The assistance by CFAC is provided within the legal framework of Afghanistan. The process to apply for the Tax Amnesty program is mapped here.

Contact CFAC by email at obaidullah.abdi@appro.org.af  or by phone at 0787 226 747.

The deadline for using CFAC’s services regarding the Tax Amnesty is Tuesday 28th of August 2018.

May 30, 2018 Training Workshop on Tax Amnesty Program of Ministry of Finance for NGOs and Private sector Entities

The training workshop

On May 30, 2018 Citizens Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) platform held a training workshop to introduce the recently approved Tax Amnesty program. The initiative was taken by the Afghanistan Public policy Research Organization (APPRO) as the secretariat, of NAC-PP, 27 Participants from 22 Organizations attended the training workshop.

Presentation

The training agenda aimed to introduce the taxation process in Afghanistan, the legal and procedural framework for clearing taxes, and the recently introduced Tax Amnesty program, opening the discussion on the possible the ways forward. Participants had the opportunity to understand and get familiar with the different processes associated with tax amnesty program in Medium Taxpayers Office. The training looked into specific such as filling forms, payment of withholding taxes, submission of annual income tax return and arranging the supporting documents. It also introduced the NGOs to the tax calendar organized by the Ministry of Finance, which define the deadline for the submission of documents. Subsequently, the participants received a practical presentation of the tax forms necessary to proceed with filing tax forms including annual tax forms, wage withholding forms, and quarterly reporting forms.

The full report of the training and its proceedings is available here.

April 19, 2018 : Consultation Meeting on Tax Amnesty Program for NGOs and Private Sector Entities

On April 19, 2018, NAC-PP held a consulation meeting on tax amnesty for NGOs and private sector entities at APPRO’s main Office in Kabul. The meeting was organized as part of Citizen’s Forum against Corruption (CFAC ) initiative to address corruption in tax payments.

Presentations were made on the following interrelated issues:

  • An overview of National Advocacy committee for Public policy (NAC-PP)
  • An overview of Anti-Corruption Subcommittee and Citizen’s Forum Against Corruption (CFAC)
  • Tax Amnesty Program’s Eligibility Criteria for NGOs and private sector

Sixteen civil society organizations attended this meeting: Equality for Peace and Democracy (EPD), Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief and Development (ACBAR), Afghan Civil Society Forum-organization (ACSFo), Afghan Women’s Educational Centre (AWEC), Afghan Coordination against Corruption (AFCAC), Relief Humanitarian and Development Organization (RHDO), Hand in Hand Afghanistan, Youth Thinkers’ Society (YTS), New Message for Afghan Women (NMAO), Cordaid, Supporting Vulnerable People Organization (SVPO), Naweed Naw and Afghan Cultural Associations Joint Jerga (ACAJJ).

Overview of National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP)

NAC-PP Chairperson presented the vision, mission, goal and objectives of NAC-PP as a platform to facilitate evidence based advocacy at national level with close coordination with provincial advocacy committees.

Anti-Corruption Subcommittee and Citizen’s Forum against Corruption

The objectives of the Anticorruption Subcommittee of NAC-PP were described to the participants with additional details on Citizens’ Forum against Corruption (CFAC) whose mandate is to assist civil society organizations and private sector entities in protecting themselves against corrupt practices by tax officials.

The Secretariatof NAC-PP informed the participants on how CFAC could provide support and technical assistance to those entities that wished to take advantage of the Tax Amnesty Program announced by the government. CFAC has contracted the services of a tax specialist and a legal advisor on how to go about applying for the amnesty.

Tax Amnesty Program for NGOs and Private Sector

The amnesty program is open to all taxpayers and upon successful completion of the process for this program. According to the provisions of the amnesty, a natural and legal person will be excused from the payment of 95% of penalties accrued from 2002 until the end of 2017. There are seven (7) necessary criteria for an entity to be considered eligible under the amnesty. The framework provides guidelines for taxpayers as follows:

1) If the taxpayer has submitted his financial statement, but his actual tax liability is different in initial assessment, investigation and application of tax laws from what he has reported:

  • At the initial assessment step, taxpayer is obliged to pay the actual amount and the adjusted tax penalty
  • While inspecting documents and tax officer finds any discrepancy between the required documents and the submitted documents, then the person can apply for this amnesty
  • When applying the law and if the cases are referred for non-compliance with the tax laws
  • Additional tax imposed on instances of tax evasion or concealing income

2) In case taxpayer is dissatisfied with the taxes withheld on tax forms and cases referred to courts if the tax payer gives up the dispute and settles to pay the determined tax plus any additional amounts:

  • If the tax payer gives up the dispute and settles to pay the determined tax plus any additional amounts
  • Following a decision by court and complaints processing unit, taxpayer is obliged to pay actual amount plus additional amounts

3) In case the taxpayer has agreed to settle taxes in instalments:

  • Taxpayer can pay the actual amount with 5% of additional amount according to the amnesty
  • If the penalty is left over, then the taxpayer can pay off the 5% of additional amount only
  • Those taxpayers wishing to continue paying the installments, can avoid this amnesty

4) Taxpayers who did not submit financial statements from years 2002-2017:

  • The taxpayer is operational and in light of the self-assessment or assessment of taxpayers offices can pay their taxes
  • Inactive entities can submit their tax return forms too and proceed paying taxes according to the law

5) Taxpayers subject to penalties and/or have not fulfilled fixed tax obligations (taxes imposed on imports, contracts, exhibitions, transport of goods & customers for business purpose) based on articles specified in the tax procedures, such as failure to submit financial statements, tax forms and income disclosure can clear their taxes by using this amnesty.

6) Other situations (for example violations and non-compliance) that are mentioned in the tax law.

7) Additional taxes that are paid prior to implementation of this procedure are not subject to reimbursement.

The full guidelines of the Ministry of Finance in Dari are available here.

Open Discussion

The following key priorities were discussed:

  • The need for urgent mobilization of resources and utilizing the opportunity for obtaining tax clearance from the Ministry of Finance while the amnesty is in effect.
  • Taking advantage of the opportunity to utilize technical and legal advice from CFAC for CSOs to clear their outstanding taxes.
  • Contradiction between the tax system in practice and the Tax Law and how this contradiction leads to cheating by tax payers or extortion by tax collectors.
  • The need for entities wishing to clear their tax penalties to coordinate their efforts with CFAC so that CFAC can provide maximum support. It was also broadly agreed the higher the number of CSOs clearing their tax penalties, the more difficult for corrupt tax officials to extort by offering to act as fixers.
  • The present civil society representatives shared different problems in the tax payment and assessment. The problems ranged from submission of financial statements and annual audits to non-uniform procedures of tax clearance procedures in different provinces. Some participants raised concern about the lack of consistency and uniform legal awareness within the Ministry of Finance with its departments in the provinces. For example, an organization is excused from paying taxes, holding an official letter from MoF in Kabul but the letter is accepted in some provinces while rejected in others.
  • It was collectively agreed to gather and accumulate tax issues from several organizations and organize a one day workshop on Tax Law and guidelines on the tax procedures.

Key Decisions

  • It is necessary to combine several tax problem cases and approach MoF as a group. Collective voice and critical mass would be the two necessary success conditions.
  • It would be the responsibility of today’s present civil society actors especially ACBAR and ACSFo as the umbrella organizations to communicate this initiative to their members and partners. The Secretariat of NAC-PP made it clear that the CFAC initiative is not only offered to NAC-PP members but all those civil society and private sector entities that have tax issues and want to take advantage the government’s Tax Amnesty Program. .
  • NAC-PP Secretariat will organize a training workshop on how to apply for the amnesty.
  • It was agreed that if there were repeated complaints by taxpayers about specific tax-related issues, NAC-PP will coordinate advocacy based on consultations with members of the Anticorruption Subcommittee.

Tax Amnesty Program: Technical and Legal Assistance for NGOs by Citizens’ Forum Against Corruption (CFAC)

 

In a press conference on Sunday, January 28, 2018 the Ministry of Finance announced a tax amnesty program through which civil society organizations and private sector entities that have not cleared their taxes and have incurred penalties for the fiscal years of 1381 through 1396 (2002-2017), may pay the original tax along with 5% of the total penalties for these years. The entities that successfully complete this process will be excused from paying the remaining 95% of the tax penalties. This amnesty program will end in September 2018.

The amnesty program offers a great opportunity for NGOs and private sector entities to operate within the bounds of law and eliminate the possibility of coercion by corrupt tax officials. At the same time, NGOs and private sector entities will contribute to efforts for transparency in tax assessment, payment, and collection processes.

CFAC will provide technical and legal assistance to NGOs and private sector entities that wish to take advantage of the tax amnesty.

Interested NGOs and private sector entities are invited to attend a consultation meeting on the tax amnesty program to discuss the details of the program and address questions from the participants.

About CFAC:

Citizens’ Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) was established in 2016 to serve as a platform through which tax paying enterprises could defend themselves against corrupt tax officials. CFAC is a part of the Subcommittee on Anti-corruption of the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP). For more information on NAC-PP, see: www.nac-pp.net

For more information on the meeting venue and date please contact: Atiq Rahimi, NAC-PP Secretariat, at atiq.rahimi@appro.org.af, with the subject line “Tax Amnesty Program”.

Addressing Corruption in Tax Payments

On  May 13, 2017, the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP), released findings of a study on corruption in tax assessment, payment, and collection processes. Carried out by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO), the research focuses on the interactions between taxpayers (NGOs and private sector) and tax collectors to provide an evidence base for multi-stakeholder dialogue on anti-corruption in Afghanistan.

The research finds that willingness to pay bribes by taxpayers is comparable in terms of being instituted to the predictable demand by corrupt officials for bribes to speed through a tax file or to reduce the amount of tax, or penalties, payable. Drivers of corruption in taxation include inefficient bureaucracy, general and legal illiteracy, irresponsible or opportunistic behavior of taxpayers, institutionalized bribe seeking, impunity of corrupt officials, institutional deficiency, aggressiveness and unprofessionalism of service provision, intentional bureaucratic confusion and arbitrariness, and lack of oversight.

The typical price to secure the “assistance” of a corrupt tax official is 50 percent of the taxes payable and penalties owed. Of this 50 percent, half is paid to the government while the other half is taken as the fee to fix the problem. Many of the corrupt tax officials offer their services as “consultants” to the hapless tax paying clients. It is a general belief among taxpayers that “If you don’t pay [bribes], your taxes will not get processed.”

Corruption cannot and must not be viewed as merely a technical problem that can be fixed by capacity building, equipment support, or legislation. Fighting corruption has to be a multi-prong, multi-actor intervention, adequately resourced, and long term oriented. As such, fighting corruption necessitates a sea change, driven by technical intervention, ongoing dialogue, re-education aimed at cultural change, civil society push and participation, committed and responsive state authorities and, in the case of Afghanistan, committed international donors in action as well as words.

The following recommendations emerged from discussions on findings held within the Anti-Corruption Sub-Committee of NAC-PP:

  • Simplify and Standardize Tax Forms: There little or no need for a 15-page document to be filled out by the taxpayer. There is also no justification for penalties for incorrectly completed forms by taxpayers. The form should be shortened, the penalty removed, and assistance provided freely and willingly by tax collection personnel at the Ministry of Finance.
  • Provide Full Access to Tax Law and Amendments: All requests for information and documentation by tax officials must be tied to the legal provisions within the Tax Law and its various amendments. In cases of disagreement the onus must be on the tax official to provide legal support for the requests for documents and information.
  • Increase Tax Law Literacy: Consideration needs to be given to Ministry of Finance-supported initiatives on Tax Law literacy with a focus on the legal requirements and the rights and obligations of the taxpayers. Such initiatives would work best if carried out in close collaboration with taxpayers’ groups and business associations.
  • Address Small Businesses’ Needs: Particular attention should be paid to micro and small businesses which typically lack records of their transactions, have little or no literacy or business management systems, and thus are at the mercy of predating tax officials who could request arbitrary amounts as taxes payable. Small and micro businesses falling into this category include shopkeepers, mechanics, and small restaurants.
  • Make Efficient and Effective Use of Digitization: There is no reason for not allowing taxpayers to complete their tax forms online and receive confirmation as to its state of completion. Removing the human factor in this process is likely to reduce opportunities for meddling by corrupt tax officials.
  • Establish a Class of Professional, Independent Tax Consultants: Since taxpayers have little time to go through the complicated process of completing forms, even in digitized form, and preparing support documentation, there is solid demand for the services of professional tax consultants who could complete forms on behalf of taxpayer for a small, competitive fee. Efforts should be made by the government and donors to create opportunities for the emergence of qualified, independent, and licensed tax consultants. This would be particularly effective if coupled with digitalized tax forms to be completed online by the taxpayers and the elimination of self appointed fixers.
  • Monitor and Act on Taxpayer-Tax Collector Interactions: As a deterrent to bribery initiated by both the taxpayers and corrupt tax officials, consider installing cameras that record all interactions in STO, MTO, and LTO and keep the records for at least one month.

About NAC-PP

The National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) was established in March 2015 to serve as a policy advocacy and information-sharing platform for good governance. NAC-PP works closely with Provincial Advocacy Committees (PACs) and District Advocacy Committees (DACs) to coordinate advocacy and information sharing from district to national levels.

For more information on NAC-PP, please contact the NAC-PP Secretariat through Mr. Atiq Rahimi at atiq.rahimi@appro.org.af.

 

 

Incorporating Anti-Corruption in the Education Curricula

On April 27, 2017, the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP), released findings of a case study on Education and Anti-Corruption,  examining possibilities for incorporating anti-corruption in education curricula in Afghanistan.

This study stems from research conducted by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO), a member of NAC-PP and acting as the Secretariat, to inform advocacy activities of NAC-PP’s Anti-Corruption and Education subcommittees, both civil society driven initiatives with mandates to facilitate evidence-based constructive advocacy by civil society organizations to initiate an inclusive, ongoing dialogue between state and non-state actors.

The Anti-Corruption Sub-Committee of NAC-PP considers integrating corruption awareness into Afghanistan’s education system is one essential measure to contribute to the fights against the institutionalization of corruption.

Afghanistan continues to be ranked as one of the top ten corrupt countries in the world. There have been very few attempts to integrate anti-corruption in education curricula, particularly in early and mid-level education. Anti-corruption values and attitudes introduced at an early age are likely to pay dividends in the long run with the emergence of a new generation of anti-corruption citizens who stand against corrupt social behavior based on a new set of values and principals. This argument has been put forth by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and taken up through the Anti-Corruption on Academic Imitative (ACAD).

Islamic values are seen by many as an obvious starting point for raising awareness against corruption. However, methods of delivering Islamic teaching were strongly and consistently described as unimaginative, ineffective, and done by unqualified instructors who fail to discuss the implications of Islamic provisions against corruption in practical, every day terms.

The teaching methods were described as uninspiring, unengaging, and delivered and received by the disinterested. Many of those engaged in this research felt that with well-trained and enthusiastic teachers communicating Islamic teachings that promote integrity and humanity a wave of resistance to the endemic corruption in Afghan society could be facilitated. Islamic values denounce injustice, corruption, ignorance, poverty, discrimination, nepotism, bribery, deception and misusing public property [bait-ul-mal].

These values need to be incorporated into the education system through changes in the curriculum and appointment of knowledgeable, qualified, and experienced instructors. The question is how a new breed of teachers is to be found, trained and deployed within the education system.

The research makes the following recommendations:

  • Efforts should be made to motivate community leaders to enlist and engage joint bodies drawn from educationists, religious scholars, teachers, parents, young people, and students along with cooperation from the Media to combat corruption based on Islamic principles.
  • As much as possible, lessons should be drawn from the experiences of citizens in other countries on how to combat corruption.
  • Parents and parents’ associations need to put pressure on the school system, particularly at the primary and secondary levels, for practical instructions against corruption based on Islamic values. Initially, these initiatives may have to find their expression in extracurricular societies, associations, conferences and other activities.
  • The evident loss of confidence and trust in the government indicates that effective moves must be organic, from within the community and initiated by ordinary citizens and their organizations, rather than merely high-level political statement making and law and policy making.
  • Extracurricular activities such as anti-corruption school clubs and conferences organized from within the community should be used to arouse interest, create a common voice, and mobilize actions.
  • Revision of curricula by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs will be essential in fighting corruption based on Islamic principles.

About NAC-PP

The National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) was established in March 2015 to serve as a policy advocacy and information-sharing platform for good governance. NAC-PP works closely with Provincial Advocacy Committees (PACs) and District Advocacy Committees (DACs) to coordinate advocacy and information sharing from district to national levels.

For more information on NAC-PP, please contact the NAC-PP Secretariat through Mr. Atiq Rahimi at atiq.rahimi@appro.org.af.

 

November 2, 2017 : Anti-Corruption Sub-Committee – Round-Table Discussion

On November 02, 2017, the National Advocacy Committee for Public Policy (NAC-PP) held its first Anti-Corruption Sub-Committee meeting to discuss objectives and strategy for this specific sub-committee, and identify possible collaboration and coordination between different civil society organizations which work in anti-corruption area in Afghanistan. The event was organized by Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO), the Secretariat of NAC-PP, following the NAC-PP Stakeholders Conference on October 12, 2017 in Continental Hotel. Read more

Presentation on Administrative Corruption – Administrative Office of the President

One June 18, 2017, APPRO presented findings of its research on administrative corruption to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff (DEPCS) of the Administrative Office of the President, in Kabul.

The presentation drew on findings from a baseline assessment conducted as part of the Citizens’ Forum Against Corruption (CFAC) project.

Read more