Christensen is a new entry this year
Rasmus Corlin Christensen researches international tax as a
PhD fellow at Copenhagen Business School, and is also a keen
participant in what's become known as the #TaxTwitter
community, where experts from around the globe discuss tax.
A new entry this year, Christensen actively engages in
debates regarding tax issues and publishes research and
thought-provoking statistics and questions on his Twitter
account, @phdskat, as well as his blog. International Tax
Review caught up with Christensen to talk about which tax
developments have excited him the most in 2017 and why his tax
idols include Ronen Palan and Margrethe Vestager.
International Tax Review: What made you interested in
pursuing a PhD in international tax?
Rasmus Corlin Christensen: International
tax has been a key interest for me since my very first years at
university. Tax is so central to the modern state, to
democracy, to our societies, and to world order. International
tax presents one of the most pressing governance challenges of
the 21st century. It is a huge challenge, an important one, and
to me an incredibly interesting one. We have to find better
ways to understand and to solve the issues we have today, with
an international tax system built on 100-year old assumptions
unfit for dealing with the modern economy. I think there is no
better way for me to contribute to this than by doing a PhD in
international tax politics. It allows me to dive deep into the
current issues and processes of change, which can be used to
inform policy-making – something I could not do
ITR: What have you worked on over the past year that you
are particularly proud of?
RCC: For the past year, I have been working
as part of the EU-funded research project COFFERS, a
collaboration of 10 universities and civil society
organisations around Europe, studying fiscal systems and
inequality in Europe. My research looks at processes of
international tax governance in order to identify key actors
and dynamics of change and stability. In particular, I am
studying the BEPS project, the corporate tax transparency
revolution, and the evolution of the global transfer pricing
regime. Over the past year, I have published one research paper
on tax debates and two working papers on professionals in
international tax, which I consider very good progress, in
addition to a number of papers in the pipeline. I am also proud
of my impact on public and political debates on taxation,
featuring in the media and in political discussion fora where I
have been able to use my research to inform debates on tax
ITR: What developments in tax over the past year have
interested you the most?
RCC: 2017 has seen a lot of changes in
international tax, continuing the trend of transformation that
really started in the wake of the global financial crisis. The
June signing of the OECD Multilateral Instrument marks a
notable departure from the previously system of bilateral
treaties. The take-up of mandatory binding arbitration by 25
countries is particularly interesting. 2017 also marked the
start of the BEPS country-by-country reporting, with the latest
filing deadlines at the end of the year. The tax transparency
revolution is for real. I would also add that the European
Commission's acceleration on the tax agenda – both in
terms of the state aid cases and the digital taxation proposals
– "behind the back" of the OECD, is an important
reminder that the landscape of authority in international tax
governance continues to change.
ITR: You're very active in the tax Twitter community. How
do you use it for your work?
RCC: Twitter has provided me with so many
benefits, both personally and for my research. Initially, I set
up my Twitter account because I wanted to immerse myself in the
tax community – I figured that the best way to learn
about something was to get in the trenches of the ongoing
discussions. Twitter provides valuable insights, opportunities
to discuss ideas, and a platform to share my own thoughts and
research with professionals, journalists, politicians,
academics and others. But beyond that, and more importantly,
Twitter has brought me many personal connections, even personal
friends, which have led to many good talks, meals and drinks,
as well as good ideas and new research opportunities.
ITR: Do you have any tax idols?
RCC: Absolutely. In academia, I have always
admired the trailblazers that have defined research in my
discipline on international taxation – people like
Ronen Palan, Jason Sharman and Thomas Rixen, and my colleagues
Leonard Seabrooke, Duncan Wigan, and Brooke Harrington. I
aspire to one day have a similar influence on understandings of
the international tax system. In policy, you can't help but
admire the two chieftains of international tax policy right
now; Margrethe Vestager at the European Commission, and Pascal
Saint-Amans, the OECD tax commandant. In their own ways, they
are admirably trying to reshape international taxation.
Finally, in practice, I think the Women in Tax group, founded
by Heather Self, is a fantastic initiative to raise the voice
of women in all spheres of tax.
ITR: What will you be working on in the coming year?
RCC: In the coming year, I will ramp up my
research on the global transfer pricing regime and on
professionals. In early 2018, I will be visiting the University
of Cambridge as a visiting fellow at the Department of Politics
and International Studies, to work on these topics, which I am
truly excited about. I will be working with some top academic
minds and innovative researchers, looking at international
taxation and international relations more broadly.