HOW WE DO WHAT WE DO
Challenges against tax abuse encounter a strategy of “attrition through lawfare” with local government’s unlimited access to taxpayers’ money. This tactic often leads to abandonment of a challenge.
Holding local government accountable requires adequate resources to enable People, Systems and Litigation.
To remain effective, we employ skilled leaders, researchers, investigators, legal case-builders, project managers and marketers.
OUTA has adopted an efficient internal legal case-building approach which increases the ability to challenge poor governance and ensures an adequate litigation fund reserve – used to secure senior legal representation in court.
Our approach allows us to question and challenge tax policy, regulatory environment and the conduct of tax expenditure. The sections below provide more detail about these three elements within our methodology.
Local governments are notorious for discovering ways to increase state revenue. Increasing tax revenue takes place in various forms:
- Improving efficiency in tax collection by collecting from all who qualify.
- Increasing rates and tariffs to keep pace with inflation or realignment of tax brackets to alter tax pressure in specific sectors or segments of society. Such practice becomes contentious and problematic as consecutive annual increases result in excessive rates, leading to public resistance. An example of this is ongoing and excessive increases in vehicle license fees – particularly in the trucking industry – and the fuel levy which has increased by over 140% over the past decade.
- Introduction of new taxes and fiscal policies to either change society’s behaviour (eg: Emissions Tax on new vehicles, sugar tax, carbon tax) or to increase taxes on society in specific areas.
When introducing new or managing an existing tax, it is important to ensure the regulatory environment is both efficient and effectively applied. Government (at various levels) will suffer a crisis of legitimacy when introducing taxes which are unenforceable, uncollectible or unmanageable.
Society soon questions the rationale of such taxes and stop paying. Local government’s inability to enforce payment eventually leads to an irrelevant tax.
Conduct – addressing maladministration, waste and corrupt use of state revenues and expenditure – is the most active area of our work. Our five step methodology is illustrated below.
STEP 1. RESEARCH AND INVESTIGATE
Through focused and thorough research, we ensure an issue is authentic, significant and relevant.
STEP 2. ENGAGING THE POWERS
Engagement provides an opportunity for those implicated to respond, explain, rationalise or rectify.
STEP 3. EXPOSING THE POWERS
Should engagement fail, we will expose the matter and those implicated, to the public, media and authorities to create pressure and a rectification of the situation/behaviour.
STEP 4. MOBILISATION
Mobilising and other public activities further highlight the issue or problem and once again place pressure on the perpetrators to discontinue unacceptable behaviour and conduct. Mobilisation may be through various forms of communication, protests, marches, etc.
STEP 5. LITIGATION
The last resort is to use the law and our Constitution to correct the matter through available avenues of litigation, mediation and arbitration.