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Global Tax 50 2017: Tomas Balco

13 December 2017

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Tomas Balco
Tomas Balco is a new entry this year

Tomas Balco, the new head of transfer pricing at the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy and Administration in Paris, has been described as an interlocutor between public and private sector stakeholders on transfer pricing issues. He takes on the helm of the OECD's transfer pricing unit at a time when the organisation is reconciling the massive impact the BEPS project has had globally with the practical challenges multinationals are experiencing as a result.

"Clearly, our objective as policymakers in taxation is to create an environment where business can flourish, while contributing to a sustainable and inclusive growth. At the same time, the objective is to assure that the governments have effective legal and tax administration frameworks in place to allow them to collect the revenue they need to perform their functions," Balco told TP Week, ITR's sister publication, in a recent interview.

Prior to taking up the position at the OECD, Balco was the general state counsel and head of international taxation at the Slovak Republic's Ministry of Finance between 2014 and 2017.

He has also taught taxation courses as an associate professor at KIMEP University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he was also the director of the Central Asian Tax Research Centre and served as the chair of tax working groups at the American Chamber of Commerce. The private sector experience has helped him understand different business models and different industries, he said.

This bodes well for projects in the BEPS areas that remain ambiguous for both tax administrations and multinationals, and are in need of further clarification and application guidelines.

"In the transfer pricing area, significant progress was made in addressing some of the weaknesses of the system to prevent tax avoidance. Indeed, revisiting and clarifying some of the areas of transfer pricing guidelines allows the tax administrations to find useful tools on how to handle the abusive situations arising in transfer pricing. The focus now remains on the practical aspects of implementing these recommendations, while seeking to assure consistency to prevent situations of double taxation due to different interpretations and applications of the guidelines."

For example, the EU's Anti-Tax Avoidance Directives I and II that implement BEPS Actions 2, 3 and 4 into member states' domestic laws are currently in the process of being written into legislation.

"They [the member states] will need guidance and assistance in the process and both the OECD and the EU will need to cooperate in assuring that countries get it right at the domestic legal implementation stage of these changes," Balco explained.

Looking ahead, Balco is also set to tackle transfer pricing issues concerning emerging economies.

"In the coming years we also need to focus on assisting developing countries with limited capacities and to explore whether we can develop more simplified guidance," Balco said.

He has also previously been tagged on Twitter as a magician on mining tax, an area that can most certainly benefit from improved guidelines.

"Never before in the history of taxation has so much happened in such a short time with so many far-reaching implications," Balco said.

We look forward to more of Balco's work in bringing more certainty for all stakeholders in global transfer pricing over the next few years.

The Global Tax 50 2017
View the full list and introduction
The top 10 • Ranked in order of influence
1. US Tax Reform Big 6 2. Dawn of the robots
3. The breakdown of global consensus 4. The fifth estate
5. Margrethe Vestager 6. Arun Jaitley
7. Sri Mulyani Indrawati 8. Pascal Saint-Amans and Achim Pross
9. Richard Murphy 10. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order
Tomas Balco Piet Battiau
Monica Bhatia Blockchain
Rasmus Corlin Christensen Seamus Coffey
Jeremy Corbyn Rufino de la Rosa
Fabio De Masi The Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union
Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez The fat tax
Maya Forstater Babatunde Fowler
The GE/PwC outsourcing deal The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) Meg Hillier
Chris Jordan Wang Jun
James Karanja Bruno Le Maire
John Pombe Joseph Magufuli Cecilia Malmström
The Maltese presidency of the EU Council Paige Marvel
Theresa May Angela Merkel
Narendra Modi Pierre Moscovici
The European Parliament Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) The Paris Agreement
Grace Perez-Navarro Alexandra Readhead
Heather Self TaxCOOP
Tax Justice Network Donald Trump
United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters WU Global Tax Policy Center

International Correspondents