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Owens looks back on his time in office

01 February 2012

Eleven years after he became the first head of the OECD’s new tax directorate, Jeffrey Owens is leaving the role at a time when tax’s profile in international public policy has never been higher. He talks to International Tax Review about the changes he has seen in international tax cooperation since 2001 and what he thinks is its future.

ITR: What was your role when you started and how has it changed?

Jeffrey Owens (JO): It's changed very substantially. When I first joined the OECD, going back four decades, tax was three people and the main work we did was principally on double taxation treaties and tax statistics.

There was some expansion in the 1970s to encompass tax evasion and transfer pricing, but the big changes came in 2001 with the creation of the Tax Centre. I was the first director of the CTPA [Centre for Tax Policy and Administration], which now has a staff of over 100 people from 25 countries, including staff from non-OECD member countries.

Over the last 11 years, the mandate of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs (CFA) has expanded. We moved into the consumption tax area, which was long overdue. VAT accounts for more than 20% of tax revenues and its relative importance is...



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