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Piet Battiau

Head of consumption taxes, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

Piet Battiau

The OECD’s work on addressing the challenges faced by VAT policymakers in an increasingly globalised world has come on apace in the last year, ensuring a place in this list for the man at the helm, Piet Battiau.

The indirect tax world is eagerly awaiting the publication of the OECD VAT/GST guidelines next year.

The organisation released three core chapters of the guidelines in February for a three-month public consultation.

“This draft looked at the core features of a VAT system and set forth guidelines on VAT-neutrality and guidelines on place of taxation for B2B trade in services and intangibles, including scenarios involving branch structures and services connected with immovable property,” says Battiau.

The OECD is now finalising the revision of these core chapters in light of the outcome of this public consultation and it aims to complete this work by the end of the year. It is also busy advancing work on the remaining chapters of the guidelines: provisions on evasion and avoidance, dispute prevention and the VAT-treatment of international trade in B2C services and intangibles.

While work on the first two elements is already well advanced, according to Battiau, the OECD's priority for the coming year will be the development of the guidelines on B2C services and intangibles.

“This is a vast and complex area, which includes the booming trade in digital,” he says. “We expect that this work will notably feed into the BEPS work on the digital economy [the OECD's Action Point 1] and vice versa.”

The OECD expects to complete the work on the B2C guidelines by the end of 2014. Together with the chapters already released, these guidelines will constitute a core set of internationally agreed principles for the VAT treatment of the most common types of international trade, with a particular focus on trade in services and intangibles.

Another big achievement for Battiau came with the first meeting of the Global Forum on VAT, and the second will be hosted by Japan, in Tokyo on April 17 and 18.

“Representatives from more than 100 countries and international/regional organisations from around the world will be invited for a truly global debate on common standards for the VAT treatment of international trade and VAT policy design,” says Battiau. “Meanwhile, we continue to support jurisdictions around the world on VAT policy design, notably via regional workshops, particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

Further reading

OECD draft VAT guidelines may remove the need for an anti-abuse provision

OECD appoints new head of indirect taxes unit

The Global Tax 50 2013

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