Unlocking the Digital Economy – A Guide to Implementing Application Programming Interfaces in Government


Cover: Unlocking the Digital Economy – A Guide to Implementing Application Programming Interfaces in Government

Published: 28 March 2019


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New digital technologies are reshaping the economy, leading to the development of new products, services and business models and creating new ways for citizens and businesses to interact in their daily lives. They are also allowing tax administrations to be more data and service driven, with increasing use of proactive tools for engaging with taxpayers, greater use of third party data and increasing use of advanced analytics to better target interventions. This in turn offers opportunities to make tax a more seamless process, with easier self-service, reductions in burdens and enhanced compliance.

A key enabler of these changes is the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This is the functionality that connects systems, people and things without facilitating direct access. These tools are what enable mobile and web-based applications to function, whether reading the news, booking tickets, paying bills or chatting to friends.

This report, which is aimed at the more specialist reader within tax administrations, provides an overview of the practices, techniques and standards used to deliver contemporary and effective digital services for taxpayers. It is intended to provide practical assistance to tax administrations, and other parts of government, which are seeking to implement or further develop their API strategy.

There are many opportunities to be realised through the use of APIs. With the correct rules and validations in place, seamless and simultaneous interactions can occur between multiple touch points, whether within the administration, other parts of government or other stakeholders. This allows "tax and other government obligations" to just happen at the touch of a finger or press of a button. The benefits of creating a digital ecosystem through APIs include:

  • fostering a self-regulating economy, making it harder for people to operate outside the system, enhancing compliance as well as simplifying processes
  • streamlining and automating government interactions with citizens, helping to break down "silos"
  • moving beyond the use of electronic forms to true digital real-time interactions


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