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Craving a bit of substance

I've never been one for fine dining. Don't get me wrong, I love flavour, freshness and fancy food, but to be honest I find myself in the same boat as the tax authorities. Something can be intricately and expensively assembled and put in front of me ever so politely, but what I really crave at the end of the day is substance.

This year is shaping up to be one of the busiest yet for the tax profession – as ITR warned in its February issue. One of the areas where this is being experienced most is tax planning.

The phrase 'tax planning' has, during the past few years, started to carry some negative connotations. For some members of the public, and many tax justice campaigners, 'tax planning' has become a euphemism for aggressive tax avoidance.

At ITR, we like to treat words as words – and this year, planning your taxes is as important as ever. Countries are preparing for BEPS in earnest, bringing in reams of legislation, as evidenced by many of this month's International Updates, mentioning the BEPS project. A big theme of this kind of legislation, and the way tax authorities are now examining companies' tax affairs, is the principle of substance over form.

And US tax reform, of course, means that many tax structures will require tweaking or overhauling as companies seek to find the best position to deal with two of the major talking points within it: the base erosion anti-avoidance tax and the global intangible low-taxed income provisions.

So as you dash between the Tax Planning Survey's rankings tables like the poor overworked waiter on our front cover, do pay attention to the words in between, where ITR's editorial staff have dissected many of the issues professionals should be planning for.

But that's not all we have in this month's magazine. Before you reach for pièce de résistance, we have a wide selection of entrées. There's news analysis, Keith Brockman's regular column, an exploration of anti-profiteering regulations and not one but two features on digital taxation issues.

And, once you've digested the main course of the cover story, there is a trio of delectable European desserts: Special features from Germany and Malta, and a report of our successful Indirect Tax Forum, which was held in Amsterdam in March with speakers from the OECD and European Commission, among others.

Bon appétit!

Joe Stanley-Smith
Editor, International Tax Review

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