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Caribbean Organisation of Tax Administrators


Caribbean Organisation of Tax Administrators

Year Established: 1971


Areas of Work

Caribbean Organisation of Tax Administrators works in the following areas:

CARICOM Institutions

Established 1971, St Lucia, at a meeting of the Heads of Regional Tax Administration, where Constitution was ratified.

Aim

Improve tax administration within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); promote regional tax cooperation and harmonization as well as closer collaboration with other tax organisations both hemispherically and worldwide.

Activities

Training/education; knowledge management; experience sharing;  information dissemination; guidance/assistance/consulting

 

Objectives

 

The objectives of COTA include to:

  1. to promote the exchange of experts and expertise;

 

  1. to organise and coordinate the training of personnel;

 

  1. to develop tax administration programmes;

 

  1. to provide advisory and technical services on taxation;

 

  1. to promote any necessary research;

 

  1. to facilitate collaboration among Tax Administrators within and without the Caribbean;

 

 

Brief History

 

The Caribbean Organisation of Tax Administrators (COTA) was formally established in August 1971 at its First Annual Conference held in Saint Lucia where its constitution was ratified.  COTA was initially conceived by the Department of Government, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, at a Meeting of Commonwealth Caribbean Tax Administrators in April 1970. The underlying concept of COTA was enshrined in a Resolution adopted at this Conference which recommended the establishment of a regional organization to promote and develop efficient tax administration in the Member Territories.

 

In 1971, at its Second Regional Conference, its Constitution was adopted and a recommendation made that this body be recognized and accepted as an adjunct of the CARIFTA Secretariat, now the CARICOM Secretariat (since 1973).

The recommendations for the establishment of COTA, and an amended Constitution were accepted by the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at their Seventh Conference in October 1972. Heads agreed to the establishment and constitution of COTA, with the Standing Committee of Ministers of Finance (SCMF) as its controlling body.  The SCMF has since been replaced by the Council for Finance and Planning under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

 

Since its establishment, COTA has operated under the aegis of the CARICOM Secretariat whereby the Officer advising the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community on Tax Administration serves as the Executive Secretary of COTA (1998 Resolution and Amendment of COTA Constitution).

Through this executive arrangement, the CARICOM Secretariat provides oversight of COTA’s strategic objectives and facilitates the coordination of its activities.  All Member States and Associate Members of CARICOM are members of COTA. This body meets in General Assembly biennially, and a Technical Conference for Tax Administrators is usually held at the same time as the General Assembly which culminates with an Administrative Session for Members. The affairs  of COTA  are managed by an Executive Council which meets twice each year. 

Since 1972, COTA has worked steadfastly to advance the interests of tax administrations in the Caribbean Community, and has sought to inculcate a culture of information exchange, experience sharing and joint training among tax administrations.  Efforts have also been made to establish and maintain relations with other tax organizations in the Western Hemisphere and the Commonwealth as well as with other Regional Organisations and Institutions.

 

 COTA has functioned as an effective tax advisory body and has facilitated the achievement of tax-related objectives in CARICOM, including the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement which has been in existence among CARICOM States since 1994 and the work towards a fiscal regime in support of the  CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

COTA is associated with, the University of the West Indies launch of its Master of Science in Taxation, in 2012. The MSC programme allows for the emergence of certified tax professionals and is intended to lift the quality of tax administration within the Caribbean Community.

 

 COTA’s advocacy has been instrumental in the creation of the CARICOM Online Tax Database which was launched during the second half of 2012 and is currently under reconstruction.  This database will serve as a repository of tax related data and information on COTA Members.

 

The COTA Essay Competition is another initiative which serves to create public awareness, spread goodwill and enhance the image of Tax Administrations across the Caribbean.  Prizes are presented to the students who submit the top 3 essays at the regional level.  The schools which the winners attend also receive prizes.  COTA has also branded the Spirit of COTA Award (SOCA) which is presented to the host Administration for the annual Regional  Inland Revenue Games

Since 1980, the COTA General Assembly has met bi-ennially and the technical conference has evolved from primarily guest presentations to the majority of technical papers being submitted by CARICOM tax administrators.  This occasion is used to recognize outstanding tax administrators in the Community.

Media Resources..


Mr. Edward Gift, President of COTA and Comptroller, Inland Revenue Department, St Kitts and Nevis