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
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
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