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A connected profession

Author: Paul Aplin

Published: 15 Jan 2019

My experience over the past few months has reinforced for me the importance of our connections with other professional bodies, and other professionals, around the world. In this blog I want to focus on just one area: tax.

Tax authorities have shared their experiences for many years through, for example, the OECD Forum on Tax Administration, which brings together tax commissioners from 51 countries. It therefore makes sense for tax and professional representative bodies globally to do the same. With this in mind, the day after I became ICAEW President I hosted a dinner at Moorgate Place for tax directors from the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA). We discussed trends in tax administration across the world, particularly the range of statutory powers that different administrations can call on, the use of digital technology in compliance and the approach to sharing information internationally. Colleagues around the table brought insights from Europe, North America, Africa and Australasia.

The GAA is not the only forum through which we exchange views on international trends in tax. ICAEW is, for example, also a member of CFE Tax Advisers Europe and in September we and our colleagues at the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) co-hosted the CFE General Assembly in London. As a consequence, CIOT President Ray McCann and I were asked to write the foreword to this year’s CFE Annual Report. Irrespective of any changes Brexit may bring – perhaps especially so - it is essential that we continue to work closely with our friends and colleagues in CFE.

And then there is our relationship with CIOT. Over recent years the two institutes have worked increasingly closely together and indeed I now sit on the CIOT Council. In October, Ray McCann and I delivered a joint session at the ICAEW IMS Tax Conference in North Queensferry. We talked about the importance of coordinating our approaches to tax policy and of sharing resources wherever we can to react to the relentless flow of consultations and technical challenges. At times, naturally, we take slightly different views, but when we combine our resources we are able to speak with greater authority and exert greater influence.

The importance of viewing these relationships in a global context became even clearer to me when I was in Australia in October. From down under, I listened live to British Chancellor Philip Hammond announce a Digital Services Tax in his Budget Statement. I found myself being quizzed on it within hours while delivering a seminar on tax administration at the University of New South Wales Business School, as the Australian government is considering the same idea. And in a session on tax compliance at the World Congress of Accountants the following week, Australian Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan gave a speech in which he expressed views that would have resonated with his counterparts across the world.

We have strong global connections. We are working constantly to ensure that they remain strong. They have never been more important.