Ali Kazimi, Managing Director of Hansuke, welcomed delegates and opened the conference with remarkable words emphasising the positive and confident tone and mood of the 2021 conference.
The conference started with a panel discussion about withholding taxes across Europe, where experts drawn from technology, consulting and investment management industries supplemented by trade association and tax authority perspectives explained the latest taxation developments to ameliorate the reclamation processes. The discussion focused on the beneficial ownership challenges, reclaim restrictions post Cum-Ex, the growing demand for standardisation of EU tax relief systems and associated costs, and the promise of blockchain solutions. Among the panellists was also one of the experts from SDS, Wolfgang Göb.
The next session brought the headline of the conference “The Future of Tax” on the table.
The expert panellists discussed the current state of affairs in the aftermath of the Pandora Papers, the irreparable damage that tax data leaks are doing to trust in the fairness of the taxation systems and which steps are being taken to fix a broken system. The panel included speakers from tax authorities, financial firms and pressure groups, who considered and discussed the efficacy of tax transparency measures – from enactment to enforcement. Apart from the fact that this is a very specialised subject, it is also a very emotional one because morality also matters in taxation.
The afternoon was dedicated to discussions related to topics around restoring the trust in a society of post-truth, alternative facts, fake news, data leaks and whistle blowing as well as challenges regarding cryptoassets and their taxation.
In general, we experienced a very active communication via the chat function of the virtual conference during all sessions and especially during breaks.
The second conference day started with a panel discussion attended by Paul Tang, chair of the EU Parliament’s tax committee, Will Fitzgibbon, a well-known investigative journalist from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and Abigail McGregor, from LexisNexis UK, about the fundamentals and paramount importance of our tax system. This was followed by a review of the biggest financial leaks over the past decade, including the recent Pandora Papers. It was a very interesting and eye-opening session which provided some incredible insights into preliminary investigation work that resulted in revealing the Cum-Ex files and Pandora Papers.
Apart from all the tax topics that dominated both days, we also heard a discussion about the most recent developments in building an inclusive workplace which touched some very hot current topics like inclusion, physical security and mental health, purpose, racism, sexism, lack of motivation and some other subjects on the list of employers’ expectations.
The OECD’s BEPS project was recognised as a game changer that reshaped the transfer pricing outcome. Subsequently, updates on administrative approaches to avoiding and resolving disputes were provided.
Two afternoon sessions focused on the future of collectives and building Funds On Chain by using distributed ledger technologies.
The final session of the conference was related to the topics around restoring trust. The panellists discussed challenges faced by financial firms active in international business, which includes dealing with offshore financial centres and tax havens.
In my opinion, it was a very successful tax conference which, despite the fact that it was organised as a virtual event, succeeded to gather high-profile tax professionals, representatives of tax authorities as well as solution providers and advisory firms. The quality of all presentations and panel discussions was at the expected very high level. Although it was “just” a virtual conference, there was a lot of interaction during all sessions. I was very positively surprised by very strong activity of the entire audience, since the traffic on the chat channels provided by the event platform was very high on both conference days. This significantly contributed to the quality of all sessions.
Feel free to contact me anytime for further information, an expert chat or any discussion about above-mentioned topics.