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The Global Tax 50 2015: The leaders creating an impact around the world

01 February 2016

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Now in its fifth year, International Tax Review’s Global Tax 50 provides a rundown of the who’s who of the tax world. One way or another, these individuals and organisations have had an impact or influence on taxation that will be felt beyond the 12 month period covered by this list. Matthew Gilleard introduces the Global Tax 50 2015

The members of the Global Tax 50 represent the choices of the International Tax Review editorial team for those who have had the biggest impact on taxation during the past 12 months. Breaking down the entire 50 individually according to the impact they made in 2015 would require too granular an approach, so the magazine list is ordered alphabetically for ease of navigation, while here, online, you can view the top 10 influencers, set apart for their particular contributions.

The number one spot on the Global Tax 50 has gone to controversial figures or groups for the past two years running. Last year, the list was topped by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president who found himself in a maelstrom of media attention and calls for his resignation over accusations of hypocrisy and conflict of interest in relation to EC investigations into tax competition and state aid.

A year earlier it was a shared entry, with Amazon, Google and Starbucks collectively holding the top spot after the furore over those multinationals' tax affairs turned the tax world on its head, setting the pace and direction of policy change and leading to greater transparency and information exchange. The increase in scrutiny of multinational tax affairs – and of the tax rulings multinationals have with jurisdictions around the world, though particularly in Europe – is clear to see from the make-up of this year's list, and those three companies, along with Juncker, played a big role in driving this trend. Perhaps not the impact they would have liked, but an undeniable impact nonetheless.

As in previous editions, politicians and policymakers make up a chunk of the list, though we also recognise academics, authors, campaigners, CEOs, judges and even a filmmaker, among others.

We welcome comments on our Global Tax 50. Please share your thoughts and reactions. Do you agree with our entries? Who do you think should make up next year's list?

Be sure to check out our LinkedIn and Twitter platforms to take part in these live discussions.

The Top 10 ranked in order of influence

Margrethe Vestager

European competition commissioner

Vestager has had a pretty action-packed first full year in the job as European competition commissioner. She tops the list after a year in which her state aid challenges hogged the headlines. When she snuck into the Global Tax 50 last year after just one month in the job, she pledged to continue a "strong and precise" approach to ensuring fair tax competition in Europe. The continuing impact of this is clear to see.

Pascal Saint-Amans

OECD CTPA director

There are a number of OECD CTPA representatives in the Global Tax 50 2015, and no small number of others who would have been equally justifiable to include, but it is Saint-Amans that takes a top 10 spot by virtue of his oversight role and international visibility.

Wang Jun

Minister of taxation, People’s Republic of China

With a geographical area of 9,600,000km2 and a population of 1.38 billion, overseeing tax policy and collection in China is no small task. Add to this the economic turmoil that hit china during 2015 and it is clear that the minister for taxation faced an uphill struggle last year. But Wang Jun was unfazed, pressing ahead with key reforms and collecting $2 trillion in revenues. He now prepares for another busy year as China hosts the G20.

Arun Jaitley

Minister of finance, India

Jaitley continues to guide the turning of the ship as India moves towards a more pro-investment, business-friendly and non-adversarial tax environment. Economic growth rates continue to vindicate his policies.

Marissa Mayer

CEO, Yahoo

The inclusion of the Yahoo and Pfizer CEOs in this year’s top 10 shows the continuing rise of taxation in the boardroom and c-suite. Tax is no longer the preserve of specialists locked away behind the scenes, particularly when it comes to high-value corporate transactions and Mayer helped to reinforce this message in 2015, intentionally or not.

Will Morris

Global tax policy director, GE; chairman, BIAC Tax and Fiscal Affairs Committee

Maintaining – and presenting to international policy-makers – a united stance from business on international tax affairs has long been Morris’ priority, and 2015 was a big year for judging his success in this area, with the delivery of the OECD’s final BEPS Project recommendations. Few fought harder to present and protect business interests.

Ian Read

CEO, Pfizer

Last year we recognised 'inverting pharmaceuticals’ as a collective entry in the Global Tax 50. This year one figure stepped forward to champion the interests of that group. Read actively defended the rights of companies to escape the nightmarish US tax code and its many complexities throughout 2015. And words matched actions when Pfizer announced the $160 billion acquisition of Ireland’s Allergan.

Pierre Moscovici

European tax commissioner

While it is his Commission colleague, Margrethe Vestager, who takes top spot in the list, Pierre Moscovici and his team have also made huge strides in the past 12 months. Progress on some initiatives may have stalled,  but automatic exchange of information on tax rulings is being successfully adopted, while the Parent-Subsidiary Directive has been updated to close loopholes.

Donato Raponi

Head of the VAT unit, European Commission

The head of the European Commission’s VAT Unit rolled out the mini one-stop shop (MOSS) VAT system for e-services, telecommunications and broadcasting services in the EU on January 1 2015. Raponi has overseen its successful implementation and is already working on plans to extend the MOSS to other services.

Global Alliance for Tax Justice

Campaigning body

The Global Alliance for Tax Justice represents a civil society movement calling for multinational companies to pay their share of tax. It brings together groups such as the Tax Justice Network, Eurodad and the FACT Coalition. The rapid growth of the alliance since its inception in 2013 is testament to the weight behind the tax justice movement. Businesses cannot afford to ignore their message. 

What do you think of the top 10? Is there anyone missing from the top 10? Have your say on Twitter (#GlobalTax50) or LinkedIn. Share this article on twitter.

The remaining 40 in alphabetic order

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