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Global Tax 50 2016

Now in its sixth year, International Tax Review’s Global Tax 50 provides a rundown of the most influential individuals, organisations and geopolitical events in the tax world. Anjana Haines introduces this year's Global Tax 50 2016.

UPDATE:a more recent version of the Global Tax 50 is available.

The members of the Global Tax 50 represent the choices of the International Tax Review editorial team, who decided who or what they thought has had the biggest impact on taxation during the past 12 months. Breaking down the entire 50 individually according to the impact they made in 2016 would require too granular an approach, so the magazine list is ordered alphabetically for ease of navigation, while online you can view the top 10 influencers, set apart for their particular contributions.

The number one spot on the Global Tax 50 has been retained by Margarethe Vestager for a second year after she announced the landmark state aid decision concerning Apple’s tax rulings with Ireland. She has been surrounded by media attention as a result of the decision and has faced a backlash of criticism from the parties involved and US politicians, among others.

In 2016, the Global Tax 50 was topped by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, who found himself in a maelstrom of media attention and calls for his resignation over accusations of hypocrisy and conflict of interest in relation to European Commissions investigations into tax competition and state aid, following the LuxLeaks scandal. A year earlier, the top spot was a shared entry, with Amazon, Google and Starbucks collectively after the public outcry over their tax affairs.

The increased scrutiny of the multinationals’ tax affairs - and of the tax rulings multinationals have with jurisdictions around the world, though particularly in Europe - have driven the changes that were witnessed in 2016. Through Vestager’s role, more tax rulings were deemed illegal under state aid rules, while many countries made changes that boosted corporate transparency and tackled profit shifting practices.

As in previous editions, politicians and policymakers make up a majority of the list, though it also recognises academics, authors, campaigners, CEOs, and judges, among others.

The full list of the 50 most influential people in tax will be published on December 14.

We welcome comments on our Global Tax 50. Please share your thoughts and reactions. Do you agree with our entries? Who do you think should make up next year's list and why?

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The Top 10 ranked in order of influence

Margrethe Vestager

European competition commissioner

The EU competition commissioner has had a busy year scrutinising the tax affairs of multinational enterprises and member states. She has topped this year's Global Tax 50 list for her most notable decision concerning Apple's tax rulings with Ireland.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Network of journalists

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has established itself as a major player in the world of tax with leaks of confidential information leading to substantial legislatives changes worldwide.


Geopolitical event that has created unprecedented tax uncertainty

The narrow vote by the people of the UK to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23 took the world - and much of the UK itself - by surprise.

Arun Jaitley

Minister of finance, India

Arun Jaitley has pulled a hat-trick and remained in the Global Tax 50 for the third year running for his continued efforts to overhaul India's tax system and rid it of corruption and opaque policies.

Jacob Lew

Secretary of the treasury, US

Jacob Lew returns to the Global Tax 50 this year due to his influential tax changes that saw big business deals collapse. He has also been vocal in calling for US tax reform in the wake of the state aid investigations by the European Commission.

Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet

Former PwC employees and whistleblowers

Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet are new entries to this year’s Global Tax 50 for their involvement in the infamous tax scandal, the LuxLeaks, which has been influential in political dialogue to tackle tax avoidance, improve transparency and protect whistleblowers.

Operation Zealots

Court reform in Brazil

Operação Zelotes, or Operation Zealots, was a two-year police investigation into court corruption in Brazil that resulted a complete closure and overhaul of the tax courts, with the ramifications still being felt today. While the police investigation ran from 2013 to 2015, its aftermath has been felt most keenly by taxpayers in 2016. Since the courts reopened, they are far more likely to find in favour of the tax authorities.

Guy Verhofstadt

Lead Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament; Chair of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

When former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was appointed as the lead Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, dismay rippled through the halls of Westminster - at least among UK politicians hoping for an easy process in negotiating its exit from the EU.

Theresa May (and the 'three Brexiteers')

Prime Minister and Brexit negotiation chiefs: Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis

Theresa May became the UK Prime Minister on July 13 2016 and, given the scale of the challenge that Brexit poses, she faces perhaps the most difficult tenure of any UK premier since the Second World War.

Donald Trump

US President-elect

President-elect Donald Trump sits high on this list after winning November's seismic US election, which means that the Republic party holds the House of Representatives, the Senate, the executive Court and the Supreme Court. A clean sweep.

What do you think of the top 10? Is there anyone missing from the top 10? Have your say on Twitter (#GlobalTax50) or LinkedIn. Share this article on twitter.

The remaining 40 in alphabetic order

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