|Pascal Saint-Amans was also in the Global Tax 50 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011|
2016 has been another year of success for the OECD's tax chief Pascal Saint-Amans, who has continued to work for global tax cooperation through the BEPS project. Although the past year has been less hectic than 2015, when the BEPS project was released, Saint-Amans has still retained his place as one of the most influential people in tax – a place he has held since he became director in 2012.
Saint-Amans told International Tax Review that his proudest moment of the year wasat the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. "I heard nine leaders in the room pronounce the world 'BEPS'. And, you know, when you make all of this up from nothing, to then have leaders from Obama to the French president say the word 'BEPS' is a matter of pride," he said.
Transparency has been the key word in the world of tax during the past year, and the BEPS project has moved from setting a standard to the drafting of legislation and implementation.
"It was a collective effort, and we have done all of this while keeping the excitement for the whole team," Saint-Amans said. Since the project was released in October 2015, Saint-Amans's team has worked on providing detailed guidance on country-by-country reporting (CbCR), helping countries write legislation and ensuring the successful transition from releasing the project to implementing it.
Separately, the European Commission's state aid rulings were a big topic in 2016, and they generated "possible friction" between the Commission and the OECD.
"I think the Commission has the power to cover tax in state investigations, and those who say this isn't possible are just blatantly wrong," Saint-Amans said. "We cannot have people inventing transfer pricing rules when we've been negotiating them for years, although this isn't what the Commission is trying to do. But it may be the case that what they've done so far isn't fully aligned with what we do, and it shouldn't undermine, nor impact, the way we tackle these issues," he added.
Another big achievement for Saint-Amans' team was the establishment of the inclusive framework, which brings together more than 100 countries and jurisdictions to collaborate on the implementation of BEPS. "This is a real game changer for the long term, because it's opening up the decision-making body of the OECD to the whole world. This is the start of something new," he said.
In 2017, Saint-Amans has a busy agenda and many challenges lay ahead for the OECD's top tax man. "2017 will be a very important year in terms of BEPS implementation, especially CbCR. We will have the multilateral instrument signed, which will be very important. The start of the peer reviews on harmful tax practices, the second round of reviews at the global forum, and the start of the automatic exchange of information, together with the delivery of the tax certainty instrument. That's a lot, you know. Those are the big building blocks for next year."
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