With great pleasure we welcome you to the 76th Congress of the International Fiscal Association in Cape Town, South Africa from 27 to 31 October 2024. We will put together the latest scientific topics to provide participants an excellent forum to exchange and debate, meet and interact with friends, colleagues, sponsors and exhibitors.
It will be the first IFA congress on the African continent and IFA South Africa is proud to host IFA's annual flagship event. Cape Town offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages, from a splendorous landscape to a visit to the the vineyards and the wild parks. South Africa will take you on an incredible journey through the wonders of nature and wildlife.
With much post-pandemic rescheduling of international conferences, space in the Cape Town International Convention Centre is hard to come by, but we were able to secure dates that are close to the traditional timing of IFA congresses.
The final day of the congress may however overlap with Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Setting dates to minimise clashes requires some compromise, and therefore we acknowledge and will plan accordingly for the first day of Diwali. We are optimistic that scheduling will allow sufficient time to prepare for celebrations.
Please scroll down for the preliminary Scientific Programme.
|IFA 2024 Cape Town Congress
|27-31 October 2024
Finding the meaning of nexus for taxes – past, present and future
General reporters: Prof. Johann Hattingh (South Africa) and Prof. Peter Hongler (Switzerland) Panel Chair: Philip Baker KC (United Kingdom)
Practical approaches to international tax dispute prevention and resolution
General reporters: Prof Jan De Goede (Netherlands) and Samuel Maruca (USA) Panel Chair: Marlene Nembhard-Parker (Jamaica)
Nexus, new forms of taxes and double taxation.
More and more countries have started to establish new and targeted categories of business taxes in a wider sense. Many countries have introduced specific taxing provisions in their VAT legislation as an alternative, while others have opted for new, consumption-type taxes (such as France’s much-publicised Digital Tax).
The African Tax Administrators Forum has published a model digital service tax, a first of its kind, which fits the topic and will enhance the attractiveness of the conference also to participants from Africa and other developing economies.
From a policy perspective, it is apparent that many countries are opting for consumption taxes to tax more effectively, especially in the e-commerce industry. VAT regimes especially are playing a predominant role, it being the tax of choice likely out of frustration with income tax not being effective to tax these income streams at source.
It is expected that more, rather than less, of these measures and alternative taxes will be introduced leading up to 2024, making this topic increasingly relevant. Its interaction with income tax is important, as the introduction of these taxes not only give rise to anomalies (and often double taxation), but also lays bare the frustration that some governments have with income tax regimes being unable to adjust to provide for effective taxation of income from the global economy at source.
The topic, therefore, links with Main Subject 1.
Panel Chair: Stephen Shay (United States)
Mobility, high net worth individuals: latest tax developments
This topic will deal with selected contemporary policy changes and challenges in the international tax arena affecting the taxation of individuals. It is not intended for this topic to deal with the tax implications for business coming about as a result of increased global mobility of its workforce. Instead, the seminar is intended to address tax developments affecting the taxation of individuals. The topic is moreover intended to look beyond global mobility (although it should necessarily form a part of that discussion).
A major point for discussion will be the taxation of crypto assets, considering that this is predominantly an area affecting individuals. The need for a coherent policy approach will
be outlined, as well as key tax treaty considerations that may arise. Would articles 15 to 21 of the OECD MTC, or articles 12A and 14 of the UN MTC, always apply to receipts where otherwise traditional income amounts are paid out in crypto assets? The issues pertaining to crypto assets go wider than their tax treatment. It also includes the tracking of information. This is especially
relevant due to the OECD’s crypto-reporting framework and the proposed DAC8 amendment in the EU, but also considering the position of individuals who often have unsophisticated record-keeping techniques, making their own reporting of crypto-related transactions unreliable.
Another key development involve trends in changes to the taxation of pensions (and the
problems coming about due to increased global mobility of fund members) and the classification of amounts paid in a society with an increased variety of products aimed at retirement savings.
The panel may also consider the progress made on BEPS Action 2 and its effect on
family offices, the structures of which often include the use of hybrid entities.
Panel Chair: James Whitaker (South Africa)
The role of bilateral investment treaties in tax related disputes
The session’s focus will not be on the tax effects of BITs but on exploring the practical consequences for BITs where cross-border tax disputes come about.
The session can further explore whether tax disputes could conceivably be dealt with under, or avoided because of, BITs (specifically under those agreements’ “investor-state dispute settlement” process), including whether those agreements provide lessons for how international tax disputes may
be dealt with.
BIT tax-related disputes are an emerging area dealt with by a small group of experts. The seminar may be more of an educational experience for the broad range of attendees at IFA Congresses as opposed to a tax technical seminar dealing with, say, interpretive disputes about international tax topics well-known to most attendees, such as what beneficial ownership means.
Panel Chair: Liselott Kana (Chile)
Taxation issues for the oil & gas industry and the energy transition
The suggestion is for this topic to focus on the income tax and VAT aspects pertaining to the oil & gas industry, rather than to look at hard rock minerals. To deal with extractives, in general, may be too wide as the fiscal frameworks and industry features for oil & gas are quite different from hard rock minerals. Subsequent Congresses might take the theme forward and deal with the sector not dealt with in Cape Town.
In addition, there are important aspects of sustainable energy transition that affect the fiscal frameworks for both sectors (e.g. the transition to a carbon-neutral economy), which could be dealt with in future. Significant new discoveries of natural gas and oil have been made in several African countries in the past decade, with more being reported regularly. Compared to hard rock minerals, it is certainly the more dynamic sector viewed from an African regional perspective.
The panel could review the significant attention regulators have given to fiscal reform or the design of regimes for this sector, especially over the past decade. These reforms, in varying degrees, take account of industry features, the decommissioning / dismantling of wells / mines, the benefaction of local communities, state participation, the goals of transitioning to sustainable sources of energy, addressing tax leakages, local development goals of source countries, etc.
VAT should also be addressed as part of this topic, while scope also exists to deal with transfer pricing aspects of natural resource pricing. The UN Tax Committee has a dedicated sub-committee working on transfer pricing aspects for the extractives industry.
Like the BIT seminar, this seminar may be more of an educational experience for the broad range of attendees at IFA Congresses who have no or very little experience in dealing with this specialised sector.
It would be useful to include representatives from the UN sub-committee and industry organisations such as the IGF, which do a lot of international tax work in this field.
Panel Chair: Stig Sollund (Norway)
IFA/Africa - Doing business in Africa: transfer pricing and other cross-border tax issues
The idea here would be to identify and discuss regional tax uniqueness and whether international tax and transfer pricing frameworks acknowledge and accommodate such uniqueness (e.g., withholding taxes not common elsewhere in the world).
The discussion should be evenly split between transfer pricing uniqueness (and challenges) in the developing world and other international tax-related matters.
It is intended for the discussion to deal with more than income tax, but also necessarily VAT, given the heavy reliance in Africa on consumption taxes due to its ease of administration and enforceability. The same goes for withholding taxes that are heavily relied on as distinct sources of revenue in several African countries. Withholding at source can be more than a mere collection mechanism for some countries, and may in effect be a separate type of tax, especially when charged on active service income.
The position is not unique to Africa. The topic will also be of interest insofar as it is bound to
address topics that will apply to other developing countries outside of Africa in their search to develop coherent tax policies for taxing foreign investment and business income, and simplify tax administration. The enforcement and practical capabilities of such states then become relevant, especially the reliance on VAT and withholding taxes, with questions to be asked as to the practical
obstacles faced by these countries to administer an income tax (and transfer pricing-related matters especially) on a non-withholding basis.
Panel Chair: Belema Obuoforibo (IBFD/Netherlands)
The relation of tax treaties with domestic law
Should treaties continue to be used only to allocate taxing rights, or should such instruments not only provide the right to tax but equally the power to tax in the absence of domestic legislation to that effect? Is this an alternative to minimum taxation proposals and the prevention of double non-taxation?
There is a school that does not see income tax treaties as “allocating tax rights” but as merely imposing limits on the income tax jurisdiction of source states. Therefore, at the most basic level there is a lack of global consensus on the purpose of model-based income tax treaties.
This is compounded by confusion about the motives for entering into such treaties (e.g. to stimulate cross-border investment) being seen as the purpose of such a treaty.
The question essentially relates to policy and the purpose of treaties. Is the purpose of allocating taxing rights limited to source state tax erosion, or is it to eliminate actual double taxation? If the latter, then, arguably, it would not run contrary to the purpose of treaties not to be applied where double taxation does not come about. The effect of article 31(1) of the VCLT may be debated here.
Only applying treaties where double taxation is involved though, is controversial and creates potential conflicts with the pacta sunt servanda rule and with tax sovereignty. There are examples, however, where judiciaries and legislatures have sought to apply treaties in this manner, be it through enacting treaty overrides (in the case of the legislature) (this is particularly prevalent in Africa based on advice from international financiers) or in the guise of statutory interpretation (in the case of the judiciary).
Panel Chair: Shefali Goradia (India)