The meeting of Heads of Tax Authorities of the BRICS countries was held to discuss the response of BRICS Tax Authorities to the COVID-19 pandemic and to explore potential areas of cooperation in tax matters.

The meeting was hosted by the Federal Tax Service of Russia, which currently holds the BRICS Presidency.

Earlier, the meeting was scheduled to be held in Moscow, but in view of the coronavirus outbreak, it was held through video conference.

Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Finance Secretary, Government of India,  represented India at the meeting.

During the meeting, Pandey shared with other BRICS nations, various measures taken by India to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the taxpayers including deferment of compliance requirements, reduced rate of interest on delayed payments and reduction in withholding tax rates.

He also urged the BRICS nations to share COVID-19 related tax measures taken by respective tax administrations from time to time so that it enhances our understanding of the fiscal and economic impact of the pandemic and encourages us to further evaluate various possibilities in assisting our government’s efforts in containing the spread and recovering from the impact of the pandemic.

Pandey highlighted the need for adopting a “Whole of Government Approach” in dealing with cross-border financial crimes as they have ramifications in respect of various statutes, not only taxation. He, therefore, urged the BRICS countries to agree for wider sharing of information exchanged under tax treaties for countering corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

The tax heads of other BRICS nations shared the measures taken by their respective tax administrations and their thoughts on other agenda items like tax challenges posed by digitalisation and exchange of information.