The OECD's head of tax, Pascal Saint-Amans, is arguably the
most important person in international tax today.
Stepping into Jeffrey Owens' sizeable shoes last February,
he has been keen to build upon his outspoken predecessor's
work, while making his own mark.
"The first few months in office have been very exciting and
challenging," says Saint-Amans. "Good progress has been made to
implement my priorities. With regard to getting closer to non
OECD countries, I have signed cooperation agreements with South
Africa and the African Tax Administration Forum and will
shortly sign similar agreements with China and Brazil."
Saint-Amans has been working on fixing deficiencies in the
transfer pricing rules and is pleased that the Committee on
Fiscal Affairs works on the holistic approach of base erosion
and profit shifting.
"Delivering on this, which includes work on transfer pricing
- intangibles, safe harbours, and simplification - as well as
really and finally improving the Mutual Agreement Procedure
will clearly be a big challenge for the year to come. Finally,
the fast changing environment in the area of exchange of
information will be a great opportunity to offer a multilateral
platform which can be both efficient to governments and cost
saving for the financial industry."
Tax treaties, transfer pricing and the elimination of double
taxation are the three pillars of the OECD's work under his
Criticism against the OECD is growing, however. Development
agencies argue that its work on transfer pricing and
information exchange is failing poorer countries.
But Saint-Amans is keen to reach out to non-OECD countries
and has shown himself to be flexible in embracing new ideas
such as automatic information exchange. And while emerging
economies outside the OECD, particularly Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa, are increasingly flexing their muscles,
Saint- Amans and the CTPA remain at the forefront of global tax
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