|Grace Perez-Navarro was also in the Global Tax 50 2016|
Before joining the OECD, Perez-Navarro began her career at the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) where she was responsible for coordinating guidance on international tax, overseeing litigation and information exchange agreements. She moved on to the OECD in 1997 and has held several key positions since, covering such areas as tax and e-commerce, banking secrecy, as well as harmful tax practices, corruption and money laundering.
International Tax Review spoke with Perez-Navarro about her work as the deputy director of the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy and Administration and what may be coming up in 2018.
"The main things I've been working on over the past year relate to supporting the 102 countries and jurisdictions that have joined the inclusive framework on BEPS," she said. "We've recently published the first set of peer review reports on Action 14, as well as the outcome of the review of 146 preferential regimes under Action 5 on addressing harmful tax practices. The other area of focus has been enhancing tax certainty. And finally, ratcheting up our work on the digital economy."
The implementation of the BEPS recommendations has been at the core of Perez-Navarro's work in 2017. The aim is to bring all the countries on an equal footing for the long term future as part of the organisation's 'better policies for better lives' approach.
"The BEPS project has put international tax very high on the political agenda. This means there has been a stronger political will to address BEPS and to implement these measures," Perez-Navarro says. "I think it's had the effect of pushing governments and companies to address these issues, especially around corporate governance and managing risks around tax planning."
One of the major developments in the BEPS project this year was the signing of the Multilateral Instrument (MLI) on June 7 2017. The next steps will be taken over the course of 2018 as many of the changes to tax treaties come into effect over the next couple of years. This will set the stage for decades of tax policy to come.
"The MLI has had tremendous take-up already and 71 countries have already signed. We've had our first ratification with Austria and others will soon follow," Perez-Navarro says. "We have around 20 other countries in the pipeline to sign up shortly. There is a lot of interest among countries in updating their tax treaties in an efficient way. This is one of the issues that we are discussing in our tax treaty group, how we can maximise its use."
"We will be considering its use as we go forward. It is one of our recent success stories and it is helping countries implement changes to treaties in a swift manner."
Another key focus for the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy and Administration is the question of tax certainty and how to best alleviate it for governments and taxpayers alike. This is an area of huge importance given the heightened levels of uncertainty over tax policy in recent years. Many corporations have feared the implications of the BEPS project and the OECD has responded by holding forums to engage taxpayers.
"A lot of things have come out of our forum on tax administration, where tax administrations work together on innovative projects like joint audits to help taxpayers get much more certainty and not have to go through a dispute resolution process," Perez-Navarro says. "Governments are working much more closely together to tackle BEPS and enhancing their cooperation to improve dispute resolution, as reflected in the interest in the tax certainty project."
This newfound level of multilateralism will surely mean more work for Perez-Navarro and the OECD, as taxpayers and countries make the adjustments necessary to deal with BEPS, in the new year.
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