The OECD’s head of tax, Pascal Saint-Amans, is arguably the most important person in international tax today.
Stepping into Jeffrey Owens’ sizeable shoes last February, he has been keen to build upon his outspoken predecessor’s work, while making his own mark.
“The first few months in office have been very exciting and challenging,” says Saint-Amans. “Good progress has been made to implement my priorities. With regard to getting closer to non OECD countries, I have signed cooperation agreements with South Africa and the African Tax Administration Forum and will shortly sign similar agreements with China and Brazil.”
Saint-Amans has been working on fixing deficiencies in the transfer pricing rules and is pleased that the Committee on Fiscal Affairs works on the holistic approach of base erosion and profit shifting.
“Delivering on this, which includes work on transfer pricing - intangibles, safe harbours, and simplification - as well as really and finally improving the Mutual Agreement Procedure will clearly be a big challenge for the year to come. Finally, the fast changing environment in the area of exchange of information will be a great opportunity to offer a multilateral platform which can be both efficient to governments and cost saving for the financial industry.”
Tax treaties, transfer pricing and the elimination of double taxation are the three pillars of the OECD’s work under his leadership.
Criticism against the OECD is growing, however. Development agencies argue that its work on transfer pricing and information exchange is failing poorer countries.
But Saint-Amans is keen to reach out to non-OECD countries and has shown himself to be flexible in embracing new ideas such as automatic information exchange. And while emerging economies outside the OECD, particularly Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are increasingly flexing their muscles, Saint- Amans and the CTPA remain at the forefront of global tax policy work.
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