Sometimes, in the midst of all that is going on in one’s own professional life, it helps to take a step back and think about first principles of tax administration. It is also fascinating to learn about tax administration in countries not your own – so that you look at your own tax system with new eyes, and think about how things might be done differently. That is the underlying rationale of the International Conference on Taxpayer Rights, which I first convened as the National Taxpayer Advocate in 2015, and for which the Center for Taxpayer Rights has picked up the mantle. So I’m pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 5th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights (ITRC), which will be held online. You can check out the agenda and register for the conference here.
This year, the Center will convene not one, but two (!) conferences, because we had to move back a year the conference originally scheduled for 2020. The first ITRC will be held on 26 to 28 May, 2021. For each conference we try to focus our panels around a general theme, and the 5th ITRC theme is Quality Tax Audits and the Protection of Taxpayer Rights. This theme will be explored in six panels over two days:
- Foundational audit principles and applicable taxpayer rights;
- The conduct of tax audits and the intersection of taxpayer rights: case studies;
- Audits and taxpayer rights in an environment of cross-border cooperation;
- Audit selection in the twenty-first century;
- The impact if audits on future compliance; and
- Criminal investigations and civil tax audits.
The moderators and panelists represent 15 countries, and come from different disciplines and roles in tax administration. We have members of the judiciary, tax agency governors, former commissioners and other agency personnel, tax professionals, and professors of tax, economics, psychology, and anthropology, as well as private practitioners and representatives of international organizations. This is a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary group, and if past conferences are any indicator, the discussions will be fascinating.
New with this conference is a pre-conference Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Workshop on May 26, focusing on Representing Low Income and Small Business Taxpayers in the COVID-19 Economy. International interest in clinics for low income and other underrepresented taxpayers has been growing over the years, with the movement expanding to Australia, UK, and Ireland. Through this workshop, which is free, people can learn about starting an LITC in their country and learn about the work of existing LITCs. We also plan to continue this workshop as part of future ITRCs, with different topics each year. You can learn a bit about international LITCs by watching the Center’s Tax Chat! with several directors of LITCs from different countries. Access the Tax Chat! here. (By the way, subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can learn about future Tax Chats!)
Normally, we rotate holding the conference in a different part of the world each year, but of course the coronavirus pandemic threw a spanner in the works on that plan. This year we planned to be in Athens, Greece, and we still have the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens School of Law as our host organization, but we will be holding the conference online. The hours of the sessions each day are scheduled on Central European Summer Time, which might be early for Pacific Coast folks, but if you register and miss the first session, we will send you a link to the recording the same day so you can watch it then, albeit a bit out of order.
As I mentioned earlier, we plan to hold a second conference this year – the rescheduled 2020 conference. The theme of the 6th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights is Taxpayer Rights, Human Rights: Issues for Developing Countries. This will be a fascinating conference, and I am hopeful we all will be able to meet on October 6 and 7, 2021 at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. You can see the agenda for the 6th ITRC here. And if you’d like to get a bit of a preview of this conference, check out the Center’s Tax Chat! video with Riel Frantzen, Annet Oguttu, and Asha Ramgobin of the University of Pretoria here.
So. Please take a look at the conference. This is not your normal tax practice continuing education program. It is a venue for thinking about how we might improve tax administration and enhance the protection of taxpayer rights. It’s an opportunity to learn from other countries, other cultures, other tax administration. I’ve learned so much from the conferences in the past. I just wish we could meet in person in Athens!
Hope to “see” you online though – you can register for the conference here.