Appointed as the new VP and global head of indirect taxes of one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies in August, Nick Burgin is a rising star in the VAT world.
Many smaller companies do not have a dedicated indirect tax department. Burgin’s appointment reflects just how important BP considers indirect tax issues to be, along with the importance of managing them at a global level.
Before joining BP, Burgin spent 12 years working for IBM, in London and New York, as the company’s VP of indirect taxes and head of function. He has more than 10 years’ experience in public practice working in London, Moscow and in Dublin, and he has worked for two of the Big 4 firms, as well as HM Revenue & Customs.
Burgin’s primary role is to ensure that BP meets its fiscal obligations across all operational countries efficiently and effectively. Crucially, he needs to be in tune with the zeitgeist of global tax policy.
“I am a strong advocate of transparency and sit on a leadership group within BP that looks at how we comply with the letter and the spirit of tax laws while allowing our businesses to operate competitively around the world,” Burgin says.
He describes one of the priorities in his new role as achieving harmonisation and simplification across the tax landscape.
“This requires focus internally but there is a huge amount to do externally as well. The European Commission is working on a standard VAT return and an EU VAT web portal which we welcome. Other organisations such as the OECD are helping drive simplifications and clarity.”
Burgin sees potential in the OECD’s 15 point action plan on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) to change the international tax landscape for both income and indirect taxes, and he believes it is necessary to avoid unintended consequences in areas such as permanent establishment.
“The work on BEPS has been endorsed by the G20 and whilst the short timeframes may seem a challenge, not pursuing these could lead to individual countries taking unilateral decisions and potential double taxation,” Burgin says. “Arguably there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in tax and at BP we stand ready to play our part in helping policy makers develop solutions that work for all stakeholders.”
As if his new job is not keeping him busy enough, he even found time to join an esteemed panel of judges for BLT’s Indirect Tax Awards this year.
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