New Year's Wish IFA President

27 January 2021

Dear IFA Friends,

2020 has been a strange, frustrating and, for some, distressing year. I would like to take this early moment in 2021 to send my very best wishes to the entire IFA community.

There is of course a good way yet to go in the world’s battle against Covid, but we maintain a sense of determined optimism, and busy-ness, about IFA’s activities.

IFA 2020 saw the cancellation or postponement of numerous events: globally, regionally and at Branch level. Despite this, the agile and innovative responses of our communities have been excellent, and IFA has remained firmly at the centre of the international tax debate.

Many will have been deeply disappointed not to be able to travel to Cancun for our flagship Congress last autumn. The disappointment will of course have been most acute for our friends in Mexico who swiftly and nobly adapted their plans and agreed to postponement - thank you, Mexico.

In place of Cancun 2020, though, we held our first “Virtual Programme” as a substitute Congress event, maintaining the presentation of our two Main Subjects, “Reconstructing the treaty network” and “Exchange of information: issues, use and collaboration”, and the three signature IFA seminars, “IFA/OECD”, “IFA/EU” and “Recent developments in international tax”, as well as excellent WIN and YIN sessions.

This was the seminal moment for “Studio IFA”, our new virtual conferencing platform, developed at pace as a response to the pandemic. Undoubtedly, it will continue to serve as a valuable tool this year and beyond, not just for global events but for numerous other IFA activities. Great thanks are due to the IFA Secretariat for their speedy and flawless work on that front, as well as to the PSC and all chairs and panellists for their superb work in constructing and presenting the top-rate scientific programme delivered in November.

Although we very much hope to be able to resume in-person scientific events of some type during 2020, it seems clear that a degree of “hybridity” (part physical, part virtual) will be with us for keeps. We want to turn that into a positive opportunity to enhance worldwide access to IFA’s programmes and to deepen participation.

The development of international tax policy continues apace, and this month, for instance, has seen the (virtual!) OECD Inclusive Framework public consultation on the Pillars One and Two Blueprints on 14-15 January and to be followed imminently this week by IF’s open meeting on 27-28 January 2021. The latter will coincide, on 27 January, with our first international event of 2021, a webinar organised by our European Region, in conjunction with the European Association of Tax Law Professors: “Reshaping the EU own resources and its impact on third countries”. Do please take a look at Join us if you can.

Your Board continues to work with future Congress organising Branches to craft the best possible responses to current conditions. We will keep you fully updated as plans settle.

In the meantime, I repeat my good wishes to all, and I sincerely hope that one way or another we will be able to be present together in person before this year is done!

Murray Clayson
IFA President