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More transparency in corporation tax?

Published: 12th September 2018 Last updated: 01st May 2019

Double inaugural address by Professors Stan Stevens and Ton Stevens
The Panama papers exposed many irregularities concerning corporations that divert money to tax havens. As calls for transparency are growing, the question that is raised with increasing frequency is whether the time has come for corporation tax to be reformed. In their inaugural address on September 14, Professors Stan Stevens and Ton Stevens will consider two aspects of fiscal transparency. The first of these is transparency in terms of public access to information about taxation, the government’s tax policy, and companies’ fiscal strategies. The second aspect is transparency in terms of training the fiscal camera on the stakeholders behind the company’s legal form. Both professors will address the question whether more fiscal transparency is advisable.

Professor Stan Stevens will deal with the role of transparency in tax law. Transparency is often seen as a good instrument for combating aggressive tax avoidance. However, tax transparency also carries risks and drawbacks. Other values, such as the right to privacy, also need to be protected and a proper balance between these values has yet to be discussed more widely. Professor Stevens will propose a number of recommendations to improve tax transparency, one of which is to have companies disclose more information about their tax burden by specifying for each country how much they pay in taxes: public country-by-country reporting. Professor Stevens is also in favor of making available anonymized data included in corporation tax returns.

Professor Ton Stevens adopts a technical approach to the concept of fiscal transparency. Using legal-form neutrality as a guiding principle, he will put forward three recommendations to reform corporation tax: abolition of the open limited partnership, introduction of an optional scheme, and introduction of a cross-border single-tax-entity regime. The third recommendation is particularly apposite, as recent case law of the European Court of Justice could well open the door to narrowing the scope of this regime.

Stan Stevens and Ton Stevens were appointed as Professors of Corporate Income Tax at the Tilburg School of Economics and Management on October 1, 2017, succeeding Professor Jan van der Geld, who retired at the end of 2016.

Professor S.A. (Stan) Stevens (1970) studied Fiscal Economics at Tilburg University. In 2003, he earned his PhD at the same university with his thesis De belaste overheid (Taxed government organizations), a study of the taxation of government organizations. Since 2010, he has been Endowed Professor of Fiscal Aspects of Social Enterprises at TIAS. Professor Stevens also works at HVK Stevens as a partner and tax adviser, he is a member of the board of the Dutch Association of Tax Advisers (Nederlandse Orde van Belastingadviseurs), and he chairs the Tax Adviser Training Foundation (Stichting Opleiding Belastingadviseurs).

Professor A.J.A. (Ton) Stevens (1966) studied Tax Law at Tilburg University. In 2002, he earned his PhD at the same university with his thesis Fiscale aspecten van de commanditaire vennootschap. Een knelpuntenoplossing vanuit rechtsvergelijkend perspectief (Fiscal aspects of limited partnerships. A problem-based solution from a comparative-law perspective). From 2005 through 2017 he was Professor of International Tax Law at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Professor Stevens is also an of-counsel tax adviser with Loyens & Loeff N.V. in Rotterdam and he is a frequent guest lecturer at universities both at home and abroad.

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