Improving Tax Compliance in a Globalized World

By Jennifer Bird-Pollan

I have spent the past two days in the beautiful “free city” of Rust, Austria.  (Among other things, Rust is known as a haven for storks, including those in the photos below.  Most buildings in the old town have stork nests on their roofs.)

I am in Rust to attend a conference organized by the Institute of Austrian and International Tax Law of the Vienna University of Economics and Business.  The Institute organizes a conference in Rust every year using the same model.  Organizers first issue a call for contributors, each of whom writes a country report on the year’s topic, answering a series of questions prepared by Institute staff, describing the situation in his or her home country.  Contributors and participants include representatives of tax authorities, tax law and economics academics, practicing tax attorneys and accountants, and representatives of international organizations, among others.  The reports are circulated to participants in advance of the conference, and all are expected to prepare themselves by reading the country reports before arriving.  The two day conference then consists of the reporters presenting 3 minute “input statements” on a variety of topics, followed by discussion among the almost one hundred participants.  Here we are discussing an input statement from the Russian reporter, Professor Danil Vinnitskiy:

Rust Conference

As indicated in the title of my post, this year’s topic is tax compliance, and it has been fascinating to hear about the approaches of various governments including Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Norway, Russia, Germany, Nigeria, Croatia and many more.  Discussions have covered questions including the measurement of the tax gap, FATCA and other information exchange programs, inter-agency information exchange, and withholding procedures, among other things.  For those interested in learning more about these matters, the reports will ultimately be published in the coming months.

Professors Michael Lang and Alexander Rust host the conference, along with others from the Institute, and they understand that hard conference work should be accompanied by some opportunities to talk informally with other participants.  The informal events typically include a local wine tasting, a sunset dinner boat trip on the lovely Neusiedlersee, and many coffee breaks with opportunities for discussion with others.

Rust dinnerRust sunset

Having attended the Rust conference twice now, I can highly recommend it to others.  Keep an eye out for the call for participants for the 2017 conference!

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