The introduction of international guidelines on VAT/GST is one
of the stand-out tax developments of the year, and rightly
cements Piet Battiau's place on this list.
|Piet Battiau was
also in the Global Tax 50
"It's a quite historic achievement of the OECD, together
with its member countries," he says. "It's something to be
proud of, and it's also quite exciting."
"We're now close to finalising the complete set, and we've
now developed the public consultation draft dealing with the
B2C consumer trading versus intangibles."
The past year for Battiau and his team has been a marathon
of public consultations, regional fora and workshops, as well
as the second global forum on VAT in Tokyo, as they try to make
sure that the guidelines will be reasonable, effective and
applicable to all types of economies and businesses.
The global forum on VAT had exactly 100 delegates, including
around 85 countries as well as regional and international
development banks such as the African Development Bank.
"We need to make sure that we understand the perspectives of
all of the 160 countries that have a VAT, so that at least they
have the chance to provide us with their input and their views.
It's very labour intensive but it works pretty well," says the
While the OECD does not have observer status of the EU,
Battiau was keen to emphasise the amount of
work which crosses over between the two organisations, as
well as the IMF and the World Bank.
"What we will be promoting in the B2C space – so
the area of B2C services and intangibles – is very
much in line with the EU's 2015 changes, but the proposed scope
is a lot broader," he says.
"The EU is looking at broadcasting, telecoms and e-services,
whereas we are looking at cross-border remote services more
generally, which then triggers discussion in the EU whereby the
EU will start looking at whether they can expand the scope of
Overall, Battiau says that the mood in his unit was very
positive, and effusively praised the work rate, togetherness
and teamwork that has been exhibited in the past 12 months.
"This year has been really historic in what we've been able
to achieve and that was really the result of teamwork within
the secretariat but also we've done a lot of work with
government experts, Working Party Nine and also the business
He says countries have long been convinced of the necessity
and usefulness of developing a global standard on the VAT
treatment of international trade, but were held back by doubts
over whether such a plan could ever be possible.
Now that those doubts have been allayed, the progress in the
past six months to a year has been particularly strong.
"Over the past few months we've achieved a final agreement
on the guidelines of the treaty on the B2B trade and we've
achieved agreement on the public consultation draft of the
B2C," says the Belgian.
"We're close to finalising a really comprehensive global
framework for the VAT treatment of trading sources and
intangibles and it's actually a huge thing, we're really proud