|Rasmus Corlin 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 anywhere else.
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 policy.
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.
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