Conclusions of the Conference “Tax Legislation: Legal Standards, Trends, Challenges”

On the last 10th, 11th and 12th of October, I attended an inspiring Conference in Lodz (Poland) on Tax Legislation: Legal Standards, Trends, Challenges. It was organised by the Centre of Tax Documentation and Studies of the University of Lodz, under the supervision of Professor Wlodzimierz Nykiel and Ms. Malgorzata Sek. On this post,  I would like to sum up a few ideas about the conference.

There were reporters from seventeen different nationalities (ranging from China to the US, including most EU Member States) and most of them mentioned that their legal tax system was a chaos and that every attempt to simplify it had failed.

The lectures on the German and UK experiences were particularly discouraging. According to Professor Manfred Mössner (University of Osnabrück), a German Committee has been working hard for three years to prepare an in-depth tax reform. It included academics, judges, tax officials and tax experts from different political parties. They managed to reach an agreement and submitted a detailed report including  proposals on new tax legislation. The results have been released and are available here. The problem is that the German government has decided not to implement such proposals.

The UK followed a different pattern. According to Professor Philip Baker (University of London), the Parliament worked for fifteen years re-writing tax legislation. Afterwards, they gave up the project since the outcome was even worse than their starting point. Professor Baker highly recommended other countries not to follow the UK criterion.

According to Professor Daniel Deak (Corvinus University), the Hungarian lawmaker has turned out to be even more creative by recently introducing a tax amnesty through the so-called stability savings accounts, a conditional levy that should apply if the public debt exceeds the overall half of the Gross Domestic Product and a tax at a rate of 98% on certain income perceived by civil servants.

The Conference showed a gloomy prospect but, at the same time, it proved that a relatively large group of enthusiastic and well-prepared academics are doing their best to enhance their national tax legislation. I wish they manage to achieve it and I am looking forward to the publication of the Conference’s proceedings.

Congratulations to Professor Wlodzimierz Nykiel and to Ms. Malgorzata Sek for their great job.

Pedro M. Herrera

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