While emerging markets continue to drive the reform process, the benefits of online filing remain heavily concentrated in developed economies
Professional services network Russell Bedford International has again supported the compilation of the annual World Bank Doing Business report, with more than 40 member firms contributing information on tax regulation, recent reforms and the genuine financial and manpower costs of tax compliance for local businesses.
The World Bank Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations for companies in 189 economies worldwide.
While the new report, Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency shows the UK up two places from eighth to sixth (now ahead of Germany, the US, and Japan, ranked 7th, 15th, and 34th), there is little change elsewhere among the worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s top 10 countries for ease of doing business ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ headed, once again, by Singapore ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ with Sweden the only new entrant, at number 8.
As in previous years, the report points to a greater prevalence of reforms in developing economies, with 85 of these implementing a total 169 business reforms over the past year (in contrast to 62 reforms implemented across high-income economies). This trend is most evident in easier business incorporation, with 45 economies, 33 of which were developing economies, undertaking reforms to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business.
Russell Bedford member firms again contributed data to the reportÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Paying Taxes survey, with the involvement of firms from both advanced economies (the UK, US, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and others) as well as emerging markets including Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, and Egypt.
This yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Paying Taxes report highlights the importance of electronic filing, citing more than 40 per cent of tax authorities now allowing companies to file taxes online: a trend most marked in Europe and Central Asia, where over 85 per cent of jurisdictions now allow online filing, in contrast to less than 30 per cent in 2006. Again though, this trend is most marked in high-income economies: less than 10 per cent of governments in Sub-Saharan Africa allow online filing, and less than 30 per cent in South Asia and the Middle East & North Africa.
Russell Bedford International chairman Bill Rucci commented: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is gratifying to see that the impetus for reform remains strong, particularly in emerging economies. But it is of some concern that the weakest economies are missing out on the opportunities offered by technology to cut red tape, encourage entrepreneurship, and stimulate growth.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â