COVID-19 suddenly halted economic activity and employment, far worse than anything on record, in depth and speed. The current crisis is a global challenge that requires a global response. International tax cooperation must be a part of a set of effective and well-coordinated multilateral actions to respond to the crisis. In order to expand the fiscal space, it is urgent to work together to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance, including illicit financial flows. It has never been more important to move towards a fairer and more equitable taxation of economic activities at a global level. Taxation is profoundly affected by the pandemic and will change taxation with lasting implications. Taxation plays a role in helping to sustain universal access to basic goods and services through “lifeline” measures, and as the global economies recover, taxation will continue to play a role. Developing countries are likely to see a significant decline in their average tax-to-GDP ratio in 2020. Direct international financial support and debt relief will be necessary during and after the peak of the crisis. Taxation must be in the forefront in future macroeconomic stimulus to regain growth. Striking the appropriate balance will not be simple. Stimulus needs to be well timed and proportional with securing the additional revenues needed to restore fiscal sustainability once growth has been put on an upward path. Along with affecting equality, fundamental shifts in social behaviors make the aftermath of the crisis a good moment to “green” our tax systems. Transparency, including the monitoring of domestic revenues, aid, and the spending of both, will be critical. COVID-19 offers opportunities for moving more decisively towards sustainable and inclusive growth. Progress and prosperity open to all people and nations are an ideal well worth pursuing.
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