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An ISO Standard For Tax Stamps

The International Organization for Standards (ISO) has over 19,500 standards. These touch on almost all aspects of daily life, helping to harmonise technical specifications of products and services.

For governments, because standards draw on international expertise and experience they are a vital resource when developing public policy. As tax stamps are a government specified and issued document (in nearly all cases), it is appropriate that ISO should provide a standard specifically for tax stamps. This will help and guide governments in their development and specifications for tax stamps.

In early 2015 ISO established an expert group to draft ISO 19998: Requirements for the content, security and issuance of excise tax stamps. This work should conclude in 2017 with the publication of this standard, although there will be a period of public consultation before it is published.

The Need for an International Standard

The development of a standard for tax stamps is already underway. ITSA will seek to engage and to actively contribute to the drafting process. 

The objective of the standard - which will benefit suppliers, issuers and users - is to:

  • Clarify the role and function of tax stamps
  • Provide common definitions and terminology
  • Establish the minimum security characteristics and requirements
  • Clarify the function and relationship between authentication and track and trace
  • Provide reassurance to specifiers and users
  • Provide suppliers with the parameters for the development of new features for tax stamps

The intended result is to improve the overall quality of tax stamps in use and their effectiveness as a collection and criminal-fighting tool.

It will further facilitate adoption of effective tax stamps by revenue agencies, thereby increasing the market.

The ISO has established timetables for the writing and adoption of the new standard to allow adequate time for writing and consultation at different stages of the draft. Working within these ISO procedures means that the tax stamp standard will be published for public consultation in the first half of 2017 with the aim of adopting it before the end of that year. 

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