VIENNA, AUSTRIA · MARCH 13-14, 2017

2017 Conference Materials: Vienna, Austria

2017 Conference Agenda – Sunday, March 12th

18:30 - 20:30
Welcome Reception: Sponsored by Caplin & Drysdale, Washington, DC, United States

Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) Welthandelsplatz 1, Building D3, 2nd floor 1020 Vienna, Austria

2017 Conference Agenda – Monday, March 13th

Day One

09:15 - 10:45
The Framework and Justification for Taxpayer Rights

A review of the sources of rights (constitutional, statutory, and administrative), the impact of tax “exceptionalism” on the rights of taxpayers, and the legal implications of status as a taxpayer in international taxation, including granting specific rights to people (and entities) who aren’t citizens or even physical residents of a country.


Video - The Framework and Justification for Taxpayer Rights

A review of the sources of rights (constitutional, statutory, and administrative), the impact of tax “exceptionalism” on the rights of taxpayers, and the legal implications of status as a taxpayer in international taxation, including granting specific rights to people (and entities) who aren’t citizens or even physical residents of a country.

11:15 - 12:45
Privacy and Transparency

As tax authorities acquire and share significant amounts of tax information about their taxpayers, significant questions arise as to the rights and protections taxpayers have as to the compilation, use, and sharing of this information. At what point in the process should the taxpayer be informed that the tax agency has information from another jurisdiction? On what basis, when and how will the taxpayer be able to challenge the use of that information on the grounds that it either should not have been collected or shared? What is the impact and taxpayer rights implications of information-sharing for individual and small and medium enterprise taxpayers, as opposed to large corporate entities? What is the role of the press in promoting transparency and tax compliance?


Video - Privacy and Transparency

As tax authorities acquire and share significant amounts of tax information about their taxpayers, significant questions arise as to the rights and protections taxpayers have as to the compilation, use, and sharing of this information. At what point in the process should the taxpayer be informed that the tax agency has information from another jurisdiction? On what basis, when and how will the taxpayer be able to challenge the use of that information on the grounds that it either should not have been collected or shared? What is the impact and taxpayer rights implications of information-sharing for individual and small and medium enterprise taxpayers, as opposed to large corporate entities? What is the role of the press in promoting transparency and tax compliance?

14:00 - 15:30
Protection of Taxpayer Rights in Multi-Jurisdictional Disputes

With the expanded exchange of information between taxing jurisdictions, there is an increased likelihood that taxpayers will face proposed tax assessments from multiple tax agencies. This panel will (1) explore what an effective multijurisdictional dispute resolution framework would look like and what fundamental rights it should incorporate; (2) analyze whether there is an effective mechanism for coordinating and resolving multijurisdictional disputes; and (3) analyze whether existing mechanisms provide adequate protection of taxpayer rights between jurisdictions and how they fit under existing human rights frameworks.


Video - Protection of Taxpayer Rights in Multi-Jurisdictional Disputes

With the expanded exchange of information between taxing jurisdictions, there is an increased likelihood that taxpayers will face proposed tax assessments from multiple tax agencies. This panel will (1) explore what an effective multijurisdictional dispute resolution framework would look like and what fundamental rights it should incorporate; (2) analyze whether there is an effective mechanism for coordinating and resolving multijurisdictional disputes; and (3) analyze whether existing mechanisms provide adequate protection of taxpayer rights between jurisdictions and how they fit under existing human rights frameworks.

16:00 - 17:30
Access to Rights: the Right to Quality Service in an Era of Reduced Agency Budgets

As tax agency budgets are reduced even as the tax environment becomes more complex and tax agencies increasingly play a role in delivering non-tax benefits and policy, tax agency budgets around the world are being reduced. This panel will explore several developments in response to this state of affairs, including the reduction of person-to-person service in favor of digital or centralized services; the increased reliance on third parties (preparers, representatives, software providers) to navigate the tax system; and the impact of these changes on vulnerable taxpayer populations (e.g., the elderly and low income), particularly in self-assessment systems.


Video - Access to Rights: the Right to Quality Service in an Era of Reduced Agency Budgets

As tax agency budgets are reduced even as the tax environment becomes more complex and tax agencies increasingly play a role in delivering non-tax benefits and policy, tax agency budgets around the world are being reduced. This panel will explore several developments in response to this state of affairs, including the reduction of person-to-person service in favor of digital or centralized services; the increased reliance on third parties (preparers, representatives, software providers) to navigate the tax system; and the impact of these changes on vulnerable taxpayer populations (e.g., the elderly and low income), particularly in self-assessment systems.

17:40 - 19:00
Challenges of Scrutineering Entities: Fireside Chat with Inspectors General, Ombuds, and Advocates

A candid discussion with overseers of tax agencies on the tension between agency and scrutineers; enhancing independence via appointment and funding protections – administrative provision or legislative; and access to agency information.


Video - Fireside Chat with Inspectors General, Ombuds, and Advocates

A candid discussion with overseers of tax agencies on the tension between agency and scrutineers; enhancing independence via appointment and funding protections – administrative provision or legislative; and access to agency information.

2017 Conference Agenda – Tuesday, March 14th

Day Two

08:45 - 10:15
Penalties and General Anti-Avoidance Rules

This panel will explore current research on the use of penalties and general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) in tax administration from the perspectives of legal and economic theory and taxpayer behavior. What types of penalties and initiatives are effective deterrents of noncompliance? Do automatic or strict liability penalties deter or increase noncompliance? What safeguards should be in place before a penalty or GAAR is imposed or applied? With respect to what penalties should the tax agency bear the burden of proof for justifying penalty imposition? How does penalty administration affect taxpayers’ trust in the tax system?


Video - Penalties and General Anti-Avoidance Rules

This panel will explore current research on the use of penalties and general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) in tax administration from the perspectives of legal and economic theory and taxpayer behavior. What types of penalties and initiatives are effective deterrents of noncompliance? Do automatic or strict liability penalties deter or increase noncompliance? What safeguards should be in place before a penalty or GAAR is imposed or applied? With respect to what penalties should the tax agency bear the burden of proof for justifying penalty imposition? How does penalty administration affect taxpayers’ trust in the tax system?

10:45 - 11:45
The Role of Intergovernmental Actors in Furthering and Protecting Taxpayer Rights: A Conversation

Today’s international tax landscape includes several actors that work across borders and are not aligned with any one government. Representatives from OECD, UN Panel of Tax Experts, etc. will discuss their roles in establishing, delineating, and protecting taxpayer rights.


Video - Role of Intergovernmental Actors in Furthering and Protecting Taxpayer Rights

Today’s international tax landscape includes several actors that work across borders and are not aligned with any one government. Representatives from OECD, UN Panel of Tax Experts, etc. will discuss their roles in establishing, delineating, and protecting taxpayer rights.

13:00 - 14:30
Building Trust I: Transforming Cultures of Tax Agencies and Taxpayers

The culture, social norms, biases, and past and current experiences of both tax agency employees and taxpayers are key factors in achieving voluntary compliance. This panel will explore several aspects of tax agency and taxpayer culture. From the agency perspective, how does an agency transform itself from a “hunter” mentality to a more educational, collaborative approach? How does corruption (real or perceived) impact taxpayer norms of acceptable behavior?


Video - Building Trust I: Transforming Cultures of Tax Agencies and Taxpayers

The culture, social norms, biases, and past and current experiences of both tax agency employees and taxpayers are key factors in achieving voluntary compliance. This panel will explore several aspects of tax agency and taxpayer culture. From the agency perspective, how does an agency transform itself from a “hunter” mentality to a more educational, collaborative approach? How does corruption (real or perceived) impact taxpayer norms of acceptable behavior?

15:00 - 16:30
Building Trust II: Safeguards on Tax Agency Power

The manner in which a tax agency enforces the tax laws can impact taxpayers’ willingness to comply with those laws. This panel will explore what approaches, safeguards, and protections can enhance taxpayer trust in the tax agency and perceptions of procedural justice, including transparency and accountability, burden of proof, administrative appeals and mediation, and access to pre-assessment judicial review.


Video - Building Trust II: Safeguards on Tax Agency Power

The manner in which a tax agency enforces the tax laws can impact taxpayers’ willingness to comply with those laws. This panel will explore what approaches, safeguards, and protections can enhance taxpayer trust in the tax agency and perceptions of procedural justice, including transparency and accountability, burden of proof, administrative appeals and mediation, and access to pre-assessment judicial review.