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Work on Tax Stamp Standard Gets Underway

13 April 2015

Work on drafting ISO 19998, the new international standard titled ‘Requirements for the content, security and issuance of excise tax stamps’, started with the first meeting of ISO’s TC 292 Working Group (WG) 11 in March. The meeting was chaired by Ian Lancaster of Reconnaissance and the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), who is Convenor of the WG and Project Leader for this standard. Mike O’Neil of NASPO is the Secretary for the WG.

This first meeting was attended by 12 people, a good attendance considering that it was held in Morioka, a small town in northern Japan. Other experts have since been nominated by their National Standards Bodies so they will be joining the group for the next meeting. It is not too late for you to be nominated as an expert by your National Standards Body if you wish to join this group, working on the tax stamp standard.

The meeting examined the first draft content of the standard, expanding and clarifying wording.

The most significant changes made to the draft were to ensure that the standard applies to both physical and non-physical tax stamps and issuance/collection systems.

It was also agreed that it is important for the standard to be clear on the purpose of tax stamps.

As a result of these WG11 discussions, the scope of the standard now encompasses:

  • The functional content of a tax stamp;
  • Substrate material for physical stamps;
  • The design of the stamp, physical or non-physical;
  • The security of the artwork files and materials;
  • Inks and other materials used in the printing of the stamp;
  • Overt and covert security features;
  • Serialisation and track and trace systems used on the stamp;
  • The issuance systems for stamps;
  • Finishing;
  • Testing.

Key changes are the clarification that the standard will apply to physical and non-physical stamps, and the addition of finishing and testing to the scope of the standard.

So the standard will now include references to the requirements for the finishing of tax stamps, with a preliminary view that the specifications need to be included in the request for proposal (RFP), with coverage setting out the minimum requirements for testing the stamp for things like durability and attack-resistance.

There was agreement on the purpose of the standard as: ‘to help governments to improve their excise tax revenues by improving the quality of their tax documents and issuance systems to make it more difficult for organised and opportunist tax fraudsters to fulfil their aims.’

The WG 11 meeting took place during the first meeting of ISO’s Technical Committee (TC) 292, which combines previous ISO committees covering societal security, fraud countermeasures and security organisations. As such, the structure of 292 is provisional, so WG11 was only a temporary group. 292 has now proposed a different structure, which would see WG11, with other WGs, combine into one WG, which, in the view of this writer, more or less replaces TC 247 on fraud countermeasures – which may not be an entirely satisfactory outcome.

The proposed new 292 structure is now being balloted by members of the TC. If your National Standards Body is a member of 292, you might wish to find out how it intends to vote on this re-structuring.

An indication of the bias of 292 towards the societal security component of the merged TCs was a tour for meeting attendees that was organised by the hosting Japanese Standards Body. Morioka is the administrative centre of the Iwate Prefecture, the area most badly hit by the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. So 292 members were given a tour of the area to show how devastating it had been and how efficient the recovery operation is.

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