Over the past six decades and more the nations of the world, together with and largely through multilateral institutions such as the OECD, have moved to build a global consensus on norms for international taxation. Clearly there have been differences and disputes on how best to move forward and differences in the application of these norms. But in general terms there has been a growing consensus on the norms to be applied, including the rule of law. This has brought increased consistency and coherence for taxpayers, and with it reduced risk, which results in greater efficiencies which benefit us all.
However, in recent years we have seen increasing challenges to these norms. This has been manifest in such developments as the US changes of December 2017 and the introduction of completely “out of the norm” taxes such as the UK diverted profits tax and the various and different digital taxes that have been introduced or are being debated. And these are just some examples. Added to this has been the seemingly increasing propensity of tax administrators to challenge perceived aggressive tax planning with aggressive tax administration, often challenging norms, including, arguably, the rule of law.
The 2019 Global Conference sought to address the question of whether we are experiencing the end of norms, or whether the tax environment of today is the new normal.