TIWB Partner Administration - France


The French Experience

By Samia Abdelghani, OECD Tax Advisor

 Launch of TIWB Cameroon programme

Launch of the TIWB programme in Cameroon


France is one of the pioneer countries in the TIWB initiative and has played a large part in its success. Indeed, even before the official launch of TIWB in July 2015, France was involved in the pilot phase conducted in 2014, when one of its experts was sent on mission to the tax administration in Senegal. Since then, experts from France have worked on missions in other developing countries such as Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Madagascar, and Mali.

Learning by doing

As a committed partner of the TIWB initiative, France has been sending seasoned tax experts to French-speaking Africa for six years to help develop local competencies and strengthen expertise in the area of tax audits.


French experts work in the field alongside officials from African tax administrations on tax inspections involving complex issues. They share their expertise, their knowledge and know-how using a hands-on approach based on learning by taxation techniques and technology are best transferred when working together on real cases. The experience acquired by France within the scope of the TIWB initiative shows that the hands-on approach to learning by doing is more effective than ordinary forms of assistance and capacity-building in providing a more solid foundation in tax expertise in the tax administrations of developing countries.



Tailored Assistance

The duration of TIWB programmes and the areas in which support is provided vary according to the country in which the French experts intervene. Generally speaking, TIWB programmes last from 12 to 18 months, with the experts performing six to nine on-site missions, depending on the total duration of the programme.

An initial scoping mission in the host country allows the expert to meet the main actors in the local tax administration involved in the programme, establish the key programme impact indicators, familiarise him or herself with the local legal and administrative framework, and start work on audit programming and tax inspections. This initial visit is followed by on-site missions during which the French experts work closely with local auditors on pre-selected cases and provide ad hoc training, based on the needs expressed, in order to explore in more detail specific topics related to tax inspections.


Between each on-site mission, the French experts provide remote support via secure electronic means so as to facilitate the monitoring of the cases in which they are involved and respond to the specific needs of local auditors.

 Launch of TIWB programme in Mali

Launch of the TIWB programme in Mali

The areas of TIWB support vary with each programme. Some TIWB programmes involving France cover specific sectors of activity in which the requesting countries want to strengthen their expertise, whereas other TIWB programmes are much more general and concern major audit cases with an international dimension. 


The TIWB programmes in which France participates are financed by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, which pays for the mission expenses of the French experts.

The account of a TIWB expert from the French General Directorate of Public Finance (DGFiP)

My current experience in Chad is highly exciting and very challenging. By reviewing “real” cases, the TIWB programme provides concrete and operational support to Chadian auditors, who are motivated and keen to take on board technical solutions. The group sessions, which are always a place for rich discussions, allow me to meet the auditors’ expectations by sharing my knowledge and experience of tax inspections.

TIWB Chad programme

There are nevertheless some challenges to overcome within the scope of my TIWB programme in Chad. The clear lack of co-operation by the multinationals being audited – either through the vague nature of the explanations they provide, or their lack of response to the auditors’ requests – interferes with the proper conduct of the inspection procedure. My role consists in keeping the teams permanently motivated, strengthening their critical approach to the explanations and documentation submitted by the audited companies, and encouraging the auditors to persist when faced with delaying tactics.

Given the auditors’ various approaches to inspections, it seemed like a good idea to work on harmonising practices by proposing standardised "tools", the creation, relevance and implementation of which are decided on in collaboration with the co-ordination team and the services in Chad’s General Tax Directorate. As I see it, the main aim of the TIWB programme - besides the fiscal objective – is the sharing and adoption of uniform practices, as it ensures the lasting nature of the support provided.

My role as an expert places me in an unusual position within the scope of an audit. The fact that I do not attend the oral hearings with the representatives of the audited companies on their premises is a way of working which differs from the usual way I conduct inspections. The time between my missions to Chad - with a visit every eight weeks – means that I need to keep in constant touch with the audit teams. This involves creating close ties between the co-ordination team, the auditors and the expert, along with a solid working relationship based on mutual trust, in order to ensure an ongoing dialogue.

Providing support to a developing country within the framework of a TIWB programme is undoubtedly a unique and valuable experience, at both a technical and a human level. In my opinion, the key words behind a successful TIWB programme are "sharing" and "adaptation".

Concrete Outputs

The TIWB initiative is an opportunity to improve the domestic resource mobilisation that developing countries need to finance their development. In this respect, the TIWB programmes in which France has participated have all led to an increase in tax revenues. For example, the tax revenues generated by the TIWB pilot programme in Senegal amounted to 11.3 billion CFA francs, i.e. around 16 million euros.


In addition to a significant increase in tax revenues, these programmes have helped sustainably strengthen the capacities of the recipient tax administrations, through the transfer of knowledge and skills but also through ad hoc training that has helped improve local expertise and resulted in tax inspections that are more effective and more efficient.

 TIWB Congo programme launch

Launch of the TIWB programme in Congo

The French TIWB experts have also helped improve the quality and uniformity of tax inspections, notably by putting in place resources such as standard requests for information, functional analysis frameworks, check sheets for tax returns, risk-analysis and search tools, all of which facilitate the work of the auditors.


Experience has shown that the extent of the success of the TIWB programmes in which France has participated is even greater when the programmes are underpinned by a strong political commitment, and all the stakeholders work together to meet the objectives assigned to the TIWB programmes.

Going Forward

Given the growing request for assistance from developing countries, France intends to continue its tax co-operation within the scope of the TIWB initiative in order to support the domestic resource mobilisation of developing countries.


In this respect, France has already agreed to provide experts for TIWB programmes in Togo and Guinea. Moreover, it has not precluded extending its assistance to continents outside Africa, capitalising on the experience gained by its experts in the course of completed TIWB programmes.


Ways of improving TIWB programmes are currently being examined, with a view to extending their reach and their efficiency. For example, each new TIWB expert will receive an information kit on the country to which he or she will be sent, thus enabling better programme preparation and optimised on-site missions.


The French tax administration is also examining the creation of a list of recently retired experts in order to meet the growing demand for TIWB assistance in developing countries.


In conclusion, France considers that the TIWB initiative provides developing countries with a genuine opportunity to build their capacities in the area of tax inspections and so be better placed to combat tax avoidance, and will continue on this basis to provide active support.


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