Women IFA Network: Foundation and Objectives
IFA strives at being representative, not only for the four corners of the globe but also for a dynamic international tax community. Ten years ago talented young professionals in the field of international taxation joined forces and founded the by now established Young IFA Network (YIN). Now the Women of IFA Network (WIN) has been established to represent and connect the many professional women working in international tax. After the first gathering in 2013 in Copenhagen and Mumbai 2014, teas were also organized in 2015 in Basel and 2016 in Madrid.
In recent years the female membership of IFA has grown and although some refer to the tax bar as a “special priesthood”, there is a fast growing awareness of the significance of professional women in international taxation. Trying to connect these women to create a network and discuss common issues, Jeanne Goulet and Carol Tello from the USA, assembled women professionals in international taxation. The first gathering was organized at the 2013 Copenhagen Congress and with success. A LinkedIn group the Women of IFA Network (WIN) was established with now around 130 members and a second tea was organized during the 2014 Mumbai Congress with a growing number of attendees. The Edit Team interviewed one of WIN’s “founding ladies” and two active professional women in international taxation.
Jeanne Goulet on the foundation of WIN
Jeanne Goulet became a member of IFA in 1981 while at IBM and has been active ever since. She recalls: “I was introduced to the world of international tax by Marianne Burge, the first female partner at PWC, and after this I visited almost every Annual IFA Congress. During the 2012 Boston Congress I was amazed at how many women attended the Congress and how few of them I knew”. Apparently it was problematic to meet the professional women because it was not easy to differentiate them from the accompanying persons. Jeanne resolved to do something about it and contacted one of her fellow IFA members in the USA Branch, Carol Tello. Together their firms, Marks Paneth LLP and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP sponsored the first gathering of the Women IFA Network which was a success. Jeanne explains. “Around 60 women attended and various interesting issues were discussed such as: (1) how few women are on panels, (2) how US women are still experiencing the "glass ceiling" but surprisingly many Latin American and Asian women are not (in fact a number of them are at the top of their profession at their company) and (3) how work life balance is still a big problem in the US but not so much elsewhere (Scandinavian women had no problem because mandatory paternity leave for men evened out the playing field).”
All present expressed a desire to continue and a next event was organized at the 2014 Mumbai Congress with the addition of Ana Claudia Utumi (PSC member, Brazil) from TozziniFreire Advogados, as sponsor. About 80 women attended the tea and an interest was expressed in establishing a WIN group in order to encourage networking among the women year round. In the meantime a LinkedIn group was established, called Women of IFA Network (WIN). The network currently has around 130 members and is growing. “Clearly there is a considerable interest in a women’s network in international taxation”, Jeanne concludes.
Carol P. Tello
With a career that spans both government and private practice, Carol Tello helps multinational companies and individuals navigate the complex and rigorous realm of international taxation. Her practice includes a broad range of cross-border tax planning and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) controversy matters, including compliance with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
Balancing the concurrent goals of minimizing tax consequences and complying with the law, Carol brings experience in cross-border restructuring transactions, inbound corporate transactions, withholding matters and treaty interpretation issues, as well as cross-border taxation of corporate executives and the U.S. taxation of non-U.S. citizens. She also advises clients on tax issues involving intellectual property transactions.
Before joining Sutherland, Carol worked in the IRS Office of Associate Chief Counsel (International) and as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Commissioner (International). She participated in a number of income tax treaty negotiations, was the IRS National Office adviser in several U.S. Tax Court cases, and worked on various regulations and other guidance, including significant participation in developing regulations concerning the taxation of software transactions. Carol is the author of the BNA Treatise “Payments Directed Outside the United States – Withholding and Reporting Provisions Under Chapters 3 and 4.”
The objectives of WIN in a nutshell
IFA’s objectives are the study and advancement of international and comparative law in regard to public finance, specifically international and comparative fiscal law and the financial and economic aspects of taxation. To achieve these objectives IFA organizes its Annual Congresses and publishes scientific research. Although IFA is essentially scientific in character, the subjects selected take account of current fiscal developments and changes in local legislation. Over the years more women have entered the professional field of international taxation and IFA now has 2.235 female members across the globe. To increase the visibility of women within IFA, WIN has formulated the following objectives:
- Building an international and trusted referral network of women in international taxation;
- Increasing the level of women speakers and participation on IFA panels;
- Increasing the visibility of women within IFA by establishing WIN groups at national level to improve the involvement and visibility of women in the IFA community locally.
Representation at IFA
IFA nowadays has several female members in IFA’s Executive Committee and in IFA’s Permanent Scientific Committee. The Edit Team asked the opinion of two of them:
Antonella Magliocco, EC member from Italy
An American professor of law once said: «The tax bar is commonly referred to as a “special priesthood” and it is only slightly more tolerant than the Catholic Church in ordaining women tax priests.»
My entrance in IFA coincided with my appointment as the Italian Branch Reporter in IFA Amsterdam (Subject 1 - 2006) and the first Annual IFA Congress in which I participated took place in Buenos Aires in 2005.
On that occasion being a woman didn’t weigh too heavily on me, as I hadn’t the impression to be considered differently from my fellow male Branch Reporters. Over the course of the years that I have been participating in the Annual IFA congresses, I personally have never felt any real intolerance, prejudice or stereotyping that are still dominant in many sectors (the banking sector where I work is still androcentric). The underlying problem remains the scarce representation with few female candidates for reporters and panelists coming from IFA Branches.
(WIN) has been established to represent and connect the many professional women working in international tax.
For years women have had to juggle many aspects to create a harmonious work-life balance. Women are multitaskers, bearers of energy and creativity, which are fundamental ingredients for matters such as taxes that will be revolutionized from the roots up by the digital economy.
In 2012 I was appointed as the Italian representative in the Executive Committee of IFA. Even though we are still in a minority around the table, our work in IFA over the upcoming years will be to think female, facilitating the participation of women in IFA governance and in scientific panels, in a bottom up approach that will feed the female tide much more.
Ana Claudia Utumi: PSC member from Brazil
I became a member of IFA in 2001, but my first attendance to IFA Congresses was in 2004, during the Vienna Congress. However, my knowledge and interest about IFA started together with my career - I started working at Coopers & Lybrand in 1992. Due to my English skill (which was not common at that time), I started to be involved in international tax matters since when I was a trainee, and saw my boss attending IFA Congresses. At that time, I was too junior for the firm to support my participation, and I had no financial conditions to do that by myself. During all these years – 1992 to 2004 – IFA was present in my researches using the Cahiers, in my studies of international taxation (which included LL.M in Tax at the Catholic University of São Paulo), and in my day-by-day practice of international taxation in Brazil.
I could start attending IFA Congress after few years at TozziniFreire - during my first years at the firm, I was forming my team and investing a lot in building a reputation locally. My first opportunity as panelist occurred in 2007, in Kyoto: Seminar A, International Taxation of Emission Allowances. Then, I was fortunate to be panelist in 2009 (Vancouver, Subject 2), 2012 (Boston, Chair, Seminar G), and 2013 (Copenhagen, Recent Developments Panel). When I was pregnant of my second daughter, in 2010, I was appointed as a member of the Permanent Scientific Committee, from which I will retire in 2016.
From my personal story at IFA, even though we still see panels with more men than women, I do believe that IFA supports female tax practitioners, and that women may seek for more space within the Organization. At the PSC, I can witness the concern of the Chair and Vice-Chair in having more women onboard. My advice to IFA female members? To be more engaged with their local IFA Branches and activities therein, and be more in contact with PSC members to make sure that they know you enough to suggest you as a panelist.
Country groups were organized based on women volunteering to lead a group
The Women IFA Network (WIN) would love to hear from you and welcomes all female IFA members to join. For more information please contact Jeanne Goulet at: JGoulet@markspaneth.com.
The WIN can also be followed via LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5153026/profile)