IFA 2018 SEOUL

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Scientific Programme

MAIN SUBJECTS

SUBJECT 1: SEEKING ANTI-AVOIDANCE MEASURES OF GENERAL NATURE AND SCOPE - GAAR AND OTHER RULES

In this session, the panel will examine GAARs focusing on the: (i) the similarities and differences between GAARs in various jurisdictions, and considerations that may explain them; (ii) influences on the development of GAARs and their use by taxing jurisdiction; (iii) case studies that develop themes considered by the panel; and (iv) solutions or alternatives for suitable legislation, interpretation and the application of GAARs in accordance with taxing jurisdictions’ situations. Particularly, the panel will discuss GAARs from a taxpayer’s perspective and consider how to ensure that taxpayers' rights are protected from the unreasonable application of GAARs in the prevailing BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) environment while balanced too with the reasonable interests of taxing jurisdictions.

General Reporters: Paulo Rosenblatt (Brazil) and Manuel Tron (Mexico)
Chair of the Plenary Session: Sai Ree Yun (Republic of Korea)

SUBJECT 2: WITHHOLDING TAX IN THE ERA OF BEPS, CIVs AND DIGITAL ECONOMY

Withholding tax has a very long history and plays an essential role in the tax system of almost every country. In some respects it is a very elementary taxing instrument as it applies to gross payments rather than net income but provides a convenient mechanism for tax to be levied where it might otherwise be difficult. The environment in which withholding tax operates has changed in recent years almost beyond recognition although underlying influences that gave rise to withholding tax persist. The development of the digitalised economy has prompted policy-makers to expand the scope of withholding taxes to include circumstances where tax would not have been levied in the past but this alternative to traditional business income taxation is thought to be necessary where income generating business activities occur remotely. The BEPS actions do not deal with withholding taxes even though many of them touch on circumstances where they may or could apply. In addition, the machinery for the exchange of information and cross-border cooperation has leaped ahead in the last few years and with technology supporting a rapidly expanding framework of crossborder instruments the role and functioning of withholding taxes may undergo further dramatic change as the business world expands and contracts at the same time and tax authorities’ mutual awareness of that world increases. This panel will explore all of these issues including the implications for CIVs (collective investment vehicles) and their investors. It will raise fundamental questions about withholding tax in general and it will offer practical recommendations for practitioners and policy-makers.

General Reporters: Chang Hee Lee (Republic of Korea) and Ji Hyun Yoon (Republic of Korea)
Chair of the Plenary Session: Paul Morton (United Kingdom)

SEMINARS

SEMINAR A: EFFECTIVENESS OF ANTI-TAX AVOIDANCE MECHANISMS (INCLUDING LIMITATIONS OF BENEFITS)

This seminar will focus on the practical effect of various anti-abuse rules. The seminar will begin by setting out possible criteria for measuring the effectiveness of anti-tax avoidance measures, such as increased revenue or reductions in litigation. It will examine which types of anti-abuse rules are most effective against different types of transactions, taking into account both the practical experience in litigating cases and the effect that such rules have on tax planning. Finally, participants will discuss whether anti-avoidance rules fundamentally change what international tax advisors do, or whether they simply change the particular structures in use.

Chair: Patricia Brown (USA)

SEMINAR B: ALTERNATIVES TO RESOLVING TAX DISPUTES - EVOLVING EXPERIENCE AND POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS

The panel will share observations and predictions on how traditional and alternative dispute procedures and forums are responding (and how they may evolve) to the increase in complex tax disputes with cross-border implications in the wake of BEPS and emerging anti-abuse regimes. The panel will focus on Asian tax jurisdictions and the tax issues confronted by e-commerce companies as a lens through which to examine how taxpayers and tax authorities globally will cope with the dilemma of more disputes in the near and long term.

Chair: Michael Quigley (USA/Republic of Korea)

SEMINAR C: LIMITS OF TAX JURISDICTION - NON-TRADITIONAL "BUSINESS PRESENCE"

This seminar will consider the possibility inspired by the digitalisation of the economy of redefining the threshold for taxing business profits. It will take the form of a debate between two teams arguing for and against a redefinition of the threshold with a decision the "winner" at the end. The precise topics to be covered will be decided as the debate on digitalisation unfolds in 2018 but will likely include the areas of:
1. Policy of the threshold for taxing business profits and what has changed to need a reformulation of the policy
2. Possibilities for setting the threshold such as clicks, dollar value sales, some form of presence etc.
3. Determining the amount of income to be taxed
4. Implementation of a new threshold: new BEPS minimum standard with changes to treaties (MLI Protocol?), domestic general or specific anti-avoidance rules, etc.

Chair: Richard Vann (Australia)

SEMINAR D: RECENT TRENDS IN THE TAXATION OF CORPORATE DISTRIBUTIONS

The seminar shall focus on practical issues arising in the context of distributions which don’t take the form of ordinary dividend distributions. These situations include share buy back (addressed by the 2017 OECD Update), cross-border reorganisations, distribution of share premium and pricing secondary adjustments. Dividends from indirect CFC holdings shall also be included. A survey of the legislative trends on reduction or elimination of withholding taxes on outgoing dividend shall complete the topics covered.

Chair: Guglielmo Maisto (Italy)

SEMINAR E: IFA/OECD

The IFA/OECD Seminar is one of the permanent plenary sessions at IFA Congresses, resulting from fruitful and long standing relationship between IFA and the OECD, and has always brought interesting discussions and updates on the most significant work developed by the OECD in the last 12 months, and also comments on trends and future developments. The impact of US Tax Reform and Tax Challenges of Digitalisation will be important themes of this seminar. The topics discussed by the seminar participants will be timely in light of the rapid change of international tax developments being led by the OECD or to which it is responding as a participant in a much larger conversation among international institutions that are influencing the evolution of international taxation.

Chair: Stef Van Weeghel (Netherlands)

SEMINAR F: TAX INCENTIVES TO ATTRACT FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS WITHOUT ERODING THE TAX BASE

Tax incentives offered by governments to attract and support investment are a common, but controversial, feature of most tax systems. Do tax incentives benefit the governments that offer them, through increased investment and job creation? Or, do the incentives simply reduce tax revenue, with few benefits? The panel will consider how tax incentives can be designed to benefit both governments and taxpayers, and how tax professionals should think about counseling clients regarding tax incentives.

Chair: Peter Barnes (USA)

SEMINAR G: IFA/EU

The IFA/EU Seminar aims to offer a comprehensive overview of all the (direct) tax developments concerning the European Union since the last IFA Congress, a focus on selected issues and an outlook on forthcoming developments or those on a more distant but nevertheless predictable horizon. This seminar’s focus is on state aids and the digital economy. In particular, panelists will examine the interpretive and practical issues connected with pending direct tax cases on state aids and a selection of issues raised by the European Commission’s investigations bearing on the panel’s main subjects. Furthermore, the panel will assess the implications for the internal European market of proposed solutions to the tax problems raised by the digital economy. The composition of the panel (including non-EU panel members) will secure a comprehensive and hands-on analysis of the most pressing issues for European taxation which will be of interest to a global audience.

Chair: Pasquale Pistone (IBFD/Italy)

SEMINAR H: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN INTERNATIONAL TAXATION

The Recent Developments Seminar will examine the latest international tax developments including reform initiatives, cases and notable points of current discussion. True to form, its content will continue to evolve up until the eve of the Congress, so that no new or breaking developments are left out. We can expect discussion of United States tax reform and responses of the “rest of world”, the commencement of key transparency and exchange of information regimes, transfer pricing developments, BEPS implementation including the ongoing adoption of the Multilateral Instrument, other treaty issues and recent court cases. The panel and possibly assisted by knowledgeable “special guests” will analyse the recent developments in incisive and thought provoking ways, and will strive to offer insight for the year ahead in international tax.

Chair: Chloe Burnett (Australia)

SEMINAR I: REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS' SEMINAR

This seminar will focus on the way that government officials and taxpayers in the Asian region interpret local tax laws and tax treaties and any differences that may exist. Topic areas to be discussed include Country by Country Reporting, Beneficial Ownership, Permanent Establishment, Indirect Share Transfers and Taxation of Digital Products & Services. A series of case studies will be used to identify differing positions, whether those differences could result in double taxation, and if so, how that outcome might be resolved.

Chair: Wayne Adams (Canada)

SEMINAR J: RECENT INTERNATIONAL VAT/GST ISSUES FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF BASIC PRINCIPLES INCLUDED IN THE OECD’S INTERNATIONAL VAT/GST GUIDELINES

The panel for this seminar will analyse VAT/GST ramifications of both business-tobusiness (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) supplies of goods and services. The emphasis will a cross-border context for these transfers with a particular focus on different collection methods implemented to secure the proper application of the destination principle which underlies this taxation regime. The seminar will address the issues connected to taxation of remotely supplied goods and services focusing on the kinds of mechanism that a taxing jurisdiction can enforce to assure the collection of VAT/GST in the place of consumption. The panel will consider whether the application of such methods may generate issues of double taxation or non-taxation and if so what may be possible responses.

Chair: Andrea Parolini (Italy)

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