Washington, D.C., June 2, 2009 – Participants at a major conference on global tax policy organized by the United States Council for International Business and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development addressed new challenges arising out of the ongoing economic crisis. Over 200 attendees, including senior corporate executives and government officials, met over two days to review the 30-nation OECD’s evolving role in shaping international tax policy.
“OECD initiatives can help rebuild the post-crisis global economy,” said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría. “They are aimed at guaranteeing the level playing field, integrity, transparency, fairness and predictability that are the cornerstones of a healthy international economy in which businesses can compete fairly.” He said the financial crisis would focus policy makers’ attention on tax rules that may encourage “excessive risk-taking.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D. – N.Y.) addressed the gathering, observing that he expects tax reform to be a priority for the current presidential term. He said reduction of corporate tax rates could be part of reform, but only as part of a balanced package that increases overall fairness. He invited business to enter into a dialogue with Congress to develop useful proposals. Congressman Rangel also called for greater international cooperation to target tax evasion.
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, providing the conference’s keynote remarks, said the financial crisis showed global interconnectedness in “stark terms.” He said President Obama‘s tax proposals aimed to promote fairness and reduce tax avoidance. “Good laws make it easier to do right and harder to do wrong,” he said.
Panels at the conference addressed a range of international tax topics, including bilateral tax treaties, transfer pricing and permanent establishment, attribution of profits and business restructuring. Jeffrey Owens, director of the OECD’s Center for Tax Policy Administration, said the loss of tax revenue brought about by the ongoing global recession would put pressure on governments to review rules governing transfer pricing, potentially affecting how companies allocate losses among jurisdictions where they operate.
The conference was co-organized by the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the OECD, which officially represents the view of industry in the Paris-based body. It was the fourth such event organized by USCIB, the OECD and BIAC. “This conference has grown into a bit of a springtime tradition for us,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “It’s clear that the critical nature of the OECD’s tax policy work merits regular high-level gatherings with business.”
Supporting organizations included the International Fiscal Association – USA Branch, International Tax Policy Forum, National Foreign Trade Council, Organization for International Investment, Tax Council Policy Institute, Tax Executives Institute, Inc., and the Tax Foundation.
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include top U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, including BIAC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.
Jonathan Huneke, VP communications, USCIB
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