World: G20 tax symposium shows international cooperation is key
13 May 2014
Posted by: Author: G20
The G20 International Tax Symposium concluded in Tokyo today demonstrating that cooperation between government policy makers, tax administrations, industry leaders and tax experts is essential to achieving a strong and efficient international tax system.
Over 200 delegates representing almost 40 countries were at the Australian-led symposium supported by the Japanese Ministry of Finance and sponsored by Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia, ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales), and the Global Accounting Alliance.
Australian G20 Finance Deputy, Barry Sterland, said discussions focused on the G20/OECD tax agenda which is designed to improve global tax outcomes.
"Creating sound tax bases is a critical component of the G20’s agenda because it is directly linked to the G20’s commitment to promote global economic resilience and growth,” Mr Sterland said.
"It is vital that governments better secure their tax bases by developing coordinated policies to tackle tax avoidance and evasion.
"Community trust in the fairness and integrity of the international tax system is an essential ingredient to its effectiveness and efficiency.
"Global growth will be stronger if there are coherent, multilateral responses to the problems in the international tax system.”
The G20 is focused on three areas of international tax reform:
- a project to address base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) to ensure profits are taxed in the location where the economic activity takes place
- promoting and enhancing international tax transparency through better exchange of information between tax administrations, and
- ensuring that developing countries benefit from the G20’s work on BEPS.
At the symposium, business and community leaders exchanged views on a number of policy issues related to the G20 tax agenda, such as how to balance risks of potential impacts on investment decisions against the need to ensure integrity in the system.
Overall there was widespread support for action to address BEPS. There was consensus that the work program was ambitious but achievable. Ongoing international cooperation and consultation with the private sector and both developed and developing economies will be critical to achieving the outcomes that are needed.
Several issues were canvassed, including the challenges posed by the digital economy and the pressure it places on the international tax system.
Other issues discussed related to a standardised international template for reporting to tax administrators on a country by country basis about corporations’ financial and operating information.
The symposium also covered issues around the automatic exchange of tax information which was recently adopted by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting at their meeting in Sydney in February 2014. The transparency that comes with the automatic exchange of information has the potential to further close the net on tax evasion.
Participants noted the challenges faced by developing nations in addressing BEPS and implementing the standard on automatic exchange of information. The symposium heard views from a range of developing countries, particularly those from the Asia/Pacific region.
Mr Sterland said the G20 International Tax Symposium had been a huge success and the size and diversity of the group was testament to the widespread interest in the G20 tax agenda.
"With the strong support demonstrated at the tax symposium, the support and expertise of the OECD as well as the political will that exists within the G20, I am confident the G20 can make real progress to improve the international tax system and create a more robust global economy,” Mr Sterland said.
The findings from the symposium will be considered by G20 Finance and Central Bank Deputies at their meeting in Melbourne in June and Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Cairns in September.
This article first appeared on g20.org.