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Global Tax 50 2016: Rita de la Feria

13 December 2016

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Chair of tax law at the University of Leeds School of Law

Rita de la Feria
Rita de la Feria was also in the Global Tax 50 2015

2016 was particularly significant for Rita de la Feria as she travelled to four continents, 16 countries and 19 cities on what she describes as a tax tour "that not only changed my work but changed me forever". International Tax Review spoke to de la Feria about her year so far and what she has planned for 2017.

As a leading tax academic, de la Feria is used to being involved in numerous international taxation projects including the researching and writing of prominent academic papers that are frequently cited by courts across Europe, the writing of tax law and policy, chairing and speaking at conferences and regularly speaking to the media.

During her tax tour, de la Feria primarily spoke at conferences and advised governments on tax law and policy. In early February she presented a draft VAT law to East Timor's government, parliament and other stakeholders in her role as a tax adviser to the government. The final draft is expected to be approved by Parliament by the end of December, which will enter into force on January 1 2018.

However, De la Feria is most proud of her work in the paper 'What is the Concept of Permanent Establishment (PE) in the Context of the Globalised and Digitalised Economy', where she looked at how a PE compares between indirect and direct taxation. In addition, she wrote a paper that proposed a new framework to assess the impact of European Court of Justice jurisprudence on the construction of a European internal market with German economist Clemens Fuest, entitled 'The Economic Effects of EU Tax Jurisprudence'.

"The paper is counterintuitive so you wouldn't think necessarily that this was the case but what we found was a negative effect [from lower GDP and increased capital costs]," de la Feria said. "We've had quite a strong reaction to it, essentially people find it hard to believe the results. But as time went on I just knew that someone in the audience would be upset about it." De la Feria has a major project looking at tax fraud that she expects will be ongoing throughout 2017.

Also in 2016, De la Feria spoke in Brussels at the IMF and the European Commission's conference on taxation, investment and innovation from November 17-18, as well as at the UK's public accounts committee's Global tax transparency summit on December 9.

Armed with Jaffa cakes, de la Feria teaches tax law and policy at Leeds University in the UK. Her students include many of what she calls her "tax converts", law students that have gone on to become tax advisers at the Big 4, or tax lawyers in well-known law firms or chambers, around the world.

In total, she has written and edited four books, and more than 50 articles and book chapters. "Twenty years ago it was only something that nerds did but it has spread to the public debate and now there has never been a more interesting time be a tax lawyer."

De la Feria is a prominent member of the international tax community and is expected to remain a driving force in tax policy.

The Global Tax 50 2016
View the full list and introduction
The top 10 • Ranked in order of influence
1. Margrethe Vestager 2. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
3. Brexit 4. Arun Jaitley
5. Jacob Lew 6. Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet
7. Operation Zealots 8. Guy Verhofstadt
9. Theresa May (and the 'three Brexiteers') 10. Donald Trump
The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order
Kemi Adeosun Piet Battiau
Elise Bean Monica Bhatia
Allison Christians Tim Cook
Rita de la Feria Caroline Flint
Judith Freedman Chrystia Freeland
Pravin Gordhan Orrin Hatch
Meg Hillier Mulyani Indrawati
Lou Jiwei Paul Johnson
Stephanie Johnston Chris Jordan
Pravind Jugnauth Wang Jun
Jean-Claude Juncker Kathleen Kerrigan
Christine Lagarde Werner Langen
Jolyon Maugham Angela Merkel
Narendra Modi Will Morris
Michael Noonan Grace Perez-Navarro
Platform for the Collaboration on Tax Donato Raponi
Pascal Saint-Amans Heather Self
Robert Stack Tax Justice Network
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Transparency International
US Committee on Ways and Means Rodrigo Valdés

International Correspondents