Global Tax 50 2016: Stephanie Johnston
Senior reporter at Tax Analysts
Stephanie Johnston is a new entry this year
As a senior reporter for Tax Analysts, Stephanie Johnston focuses on the OECD and the UK, but her regular presence on Twitter has made her engagement in tax discussions global.
Formerly a fashion journalist, Johnston found her way into tax reporting by chance. "I was looking for a job in DC and put a message on my grad-school message boards and someone got back to me saying I'm leaving my job at Tax Analysts and by the way my name is Johnston as well. And I thought great, if I apply for this job my big selling point will be that they don't have to remember a new name."
Five years later and Johnston has become a familiar name to many in the international tax sphere. As a regular attendee at OECD events her coverage and analysis is being noticed at government level. An article she wrote, focusing on the shift in importance of tax certainty among world leaders at the G20 tax symposium in Chengdu, China, was cited in the US Treasury's White Paper on the European Commission State Aid Investigations of Transfer Pricing Rulings.
Johnston described this as "amazing" and cannot deny that she has built a passion and fascination for international tax events, particularly over the past four years with the OECD BEPS changes. "To be on the forefront of all of this stuff, and this sounds corny, but being a witness to tax history, covering all this, and really seeing all of this change in the past four years in the international tax space ─ it's kind of exciting to be part of. Super nerdy, yet super awesome!"
It is this enthusiasm for tax that drives her regular Twitter commentary. Tweeting about both tax and more light-hearted events, Johnston addresses an audience of engaged and expert "tax tweeps", as well as a broader audience as she notices tax discussions moving into the mainstream.
"I like to have fun with tax, I hope I show that through my Twitter presence too. I tweet things that are important and people should know and I try to inform them, but I also like to have fun. The culture of tax is pretty interesting, tax twitter is pretty active and I always tell people to get involved. A lot of good conversations have come out of it."
One of these good conversations has been the place of women in tax and Johnston has closely engaged in the Women in Tax network on Twitter that has now grown into several branches with regular meetings in the UK. Johnston hopes she can help to grow the network's objective internationally and support a North American version of the group.
Outside of her efforts on Twitter, Johnston is looking ahead to covering what looks likely to be the big news stories of 2017. She sees the impact of state aid decisions to keep on driving news, alongside the tax implications of the UK leaving the EU and undoubtedly her favourite topic of BEPS will also prompt new controversies.
"I'm not worried about not having anything to do," she said.
The Global Tax 50 2016
The top 10 • Ranked in order of influence
4. Arun Jaitley
5. Jacob Lew
10. Donald Trump
The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order