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Academic Research

In this section you can find information regarding the research projects that are currently being developed by IBFD academic (comprising both internal and collaborative research projects).

In addition to these research projects, IBFD Academic continues to actively participate in key research meetings around the world in several other topics. In line with our mission, this allows us to provide our audiences with the most recent findings and developments in international taxation.


Research Projects 


BRICS and Taxation (BRICS Project)

Partners (other than IBFD): University of Cape Town (South Africa), Prof. Johann Hattingh, Prof. Jennifer Roeleveld and Prof. Craig West; University of Florida (United States of America), Prof. Dr Yariv Brauner; São Paulo University (Brazil), Prof. Dr Luis Eduardo Schoueri; Ural State Law University (Russia), Prof. Dr Danil Vinnitskiy; Renmin University (China), Prof. Tianlong Hu; WU (Austria), Dr Na Li. For India, the input is ensured by D.P. Sengupta.
Between developed and developing countries there is a block of emerging economies, commonly known as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). These countries present a specific profile (large economics, substantive rates of growth, etc.) and are also assuming a distinctive and new position in the international tax scene. IBFD could not overlook this new phenomenon in the tax scene. The goal is to study the deviations of these countries’ policies regarding the positions of both developed and developing countries. Based on the findings, research is to be done in order to assess if those deviations amount to idiosyncrasies of the countries or to common features of this new block of countries.
The book BRICS and the emergence of International Tax Coordination was published in February 2015. The book launch took place in Cape Town, South Africa in February with presentations following in China and Russia. IBFD Academic has been involved in the establishment of the BRICS Law Institute as well as in other talks in South Africa with Prof. Salvatore Mancuso (UCT) on perspectives of cooperation with BRICS non-tax legal researchers. 
Phase II of the BRICS research project also started in 2015. One key document for this second phase is the new protocol signed between IBFD and Ural State Law University, Ekaterinburg, Russia  (14 May 2015). This document draws a working plan for joint research activities on international tax law issues and cooperation in connection with the establishment of the BRICS Law Institute. The core areas to explore in the future are: a) constitutional and legal principles with special, but not exclusive emphasis on their implications for tax matters, b) rights and obligations arising in legal relations between taxpayers and tax authorities, also considering how such rights and obligations arise in legal relations concerning other branches of law; c) administrative and judicial tax procedures, including legal remedies, in purely domestic and cross-border situations; d) legal drafting, capacity building and exchange of expertise in tax matters arising in this field.


Cross-border Tax Issues Related to Individuals in the EU 

In 2010, the European Commission in its communication on Removing cross-border tax obstacles for EU citizens, highlighted the difficult legal framework that EU citizens face in their daily life. More specifically from a tax perspective, EU individuals moving cross-border or abroad temporarily or permanently have to deal with many tax obstacles mostly caused by differences and mismatches between national tax systems (the so-called disparities). These tax obstacles (can) discourage individuals from exercising their full rights to be active across national borders within the EU and benefiting from the internal market.

Following up on its communication, in 2014, the Commission established a dedicated Group of experts to gather ideas on how to tackle these tax obstacles that hinder the cross-border activity of individuals in the internal market. The group has been working on a report covering this matter in order to define actions that need to be taken to tackle and solve these fundamental issues at the EU level. IBFD has supported and contributed to this project. 

This research project addresses some of the issues that are under scrutiny of the Commission and of the expert group. More specifically, it starts from the idea that the tax barriers hindering the exercise of the fundamental freedoms are one of the most relevant failures of the internal market and, therefore, they should be addressed by Member States as a matter of urgency in a comprehensive manner. 

Against this background, the research is aimed at identifying the cross-border tax problems that individuals face within the EU and at outlining possible solutions and best practices. As for the tax obstacles, the focus will be on both substantial and procedural obstacles, with a particular attention to highly mobile workers, short-term posted workers and frontier workers and taking into account all those situations that may cause double taxation. Concerning the solutions, a wide range of solutions can be proposed going from hard law measures (such as EU directives) to soft law instruments.

Cross-border taxation of services in the context of the UN Model

The tax treatment of services has been a priority issue of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation for a number of years. Nevertheless, since the creation, in its Fourth Session (2008), of the Subcommittee on Article 14 and Services, the introduction of a new and revolutionary approach to cross-border taxation of services has been gradually taking shape culminating in the recent proposal, presented in the Tenth Session of the Committee (2014), for the introduction of a new article on services in the UN Model tax Convention.


The object of the project is not the analysis of the very article and its proposed Commentary but rather the consideration of its pros and cons as compared to other traditional or new-style approaches to the taxation of cross-border services (Services PE, Services related to Royalties or Intra-group services approach). This comparative methodology enables: a) Taking into account certain sensitivities of Members of the Committee and Commentators as related to the original proposal and providing additional background for the eventual introduction of an alternative provision in the Model; b) Offering developing countries a clear guidance on the effects and alternatives of the current proposal as compared to traditional solutions. c) Considering the gradual withdrawal of the OECD and the UN Model as refers taxation of services and the potential influence of the UN Project and final outcomes of BEPS Action 1 (Digital Economy) in an eventual (re)rapprochement.

Environmental Taxation and State Aid (“Ecotax” Project)

Partners (other than IBFD): Aarhus workshop (as coordinators): University of Aarhus (Denmark), Prof. Dr Pernille Wegener and University CEU San Pablo (Spain), Prof. Dr Marta Villar Ezcurra. At the international workshop in Madrid contributed as speakers and with a written contribution: University CEU San Pablo (Spain), Prof. Dr Marta Villar Ezcurra and Prof. Dr Iñaki Bilbao Estrada, Prof. Dr Jerónimo Maillo, Prof. Dr Vicente López-Ibor, Dr Álvaro Antón Antón; University of Aarhus (Denmark), Prof. Dr Pernille Wegener and Prof. Dr Michael Skou Andersen; University of Alicante (Spain), Prof. Dr María Teresa Soler Roch (written contribution co-authored with Elizabeth Gil); University of Barcelona (Spain), Prof. Dr José Rozas Valdés and Dr Estela Ferreiro Serret; University of Chieti-Pescara (Italy), Prof. Dr Lorenzo del Federico and Prof. Dr Caterina Verrigni; Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), Prof. Dr Edoardo Traversa (written contribution co-authored with Sebastien Wolff) and Alice Pirlot; University of Maastricht (The Netherlands), Dr Federica Pitrone; University of Vermont (US), Prof. Dr Janet Milne; WU Vienna (Austria), Prof. Dr Pasquale Pistone; and Instituto de Estudios Fiscales (Spain), Prof. Dr Jesús Rodríguez Márquez. This research project aims to study the recent changes in tax policies regarding environmental taxation and assesses their feasibility, adequacy and compatibility with EU law (in particular with the rules on State aid). The research focuses on reconciling the priorities of businesses, i.e. to keep their international competitiveness, with those of the protection of the environment.
In order to determine the feasibility and details of a possible collaborative research project, a workshop was held at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, on 31 October 2013. Both the Academic Chairman Prof. Dr Pasquale Pistone and Dr Estela Ferreiro attended and made presentations on relevant topics. Research teams were created in order to work on the different issues identified in the workshop. 

The synergies for this group of universities made it possible for the University CEU San Pablo (Madrid, Spain), with Prof. Dr Marta Villar Ezcurra, as coordinator, to apply for a Jean Monnet Research Grant (which indeed was awarded) with a project called “Energy taxation and State aid control: looking for a better coordination and efficiency”. The research project (2014-2016) is based on the organization of seven different seminars, in which each working team presents a paper that is discussed by an expert on the topic, external to the project. Furthermore, two conferences have been planned in order to present the initial (January 2015) and final (June 2016) results of the research, that will be published at the same time as peer-reviewed books.


Flexible Multi-Tier Dispute Resolution in International Tax Disputes

Postdoctoral researcher in charge: Dr Diana van Hout


Nowadays there is a global trend towards an increasing number of international tax disputes. On 23 November 2015 the OECD reported statistics regarding the number of outstanding Mutual Agreement Procedures (hereinafter: MAP) of its member states. These statistics reveal an increase of a MAP caseload of 130.57% compared to the reported period of 2006 until 2014. The OECD also noted that the actions to counter the BEPS are likely to give rise to new rules, new interpretations problems and therefore a higher risk of double taxation. A higher risk of double taxation means even more tax cross-border disputes which can jeopardize cross-border trade, foreign investment and economic growth. To counter an excessive growth of international tax disputes it is utmost important to improve the current international dispute resolution procedures.


In international tax disputes the main difficulty is that the disputes have to be resolved between states. The sovereignty of states excludes the possibility of a single judiciary to decide over the case. Moreover in cross-border tax disputes there are two jurisdictions involved and it involves at least three parties: the two contracting states and the taxpayer. In some disputes like transfer pricing cases between related companies there are even more parties involved: at least two contracting states and at least two taxpayers (likely a parent company and its subsidiary). Thus, it is difficult to implement (mandatory) arbitration in international taxation, although some OECD countries already declared their commitment to this solution. Nonetheless, we feel that other types of dispute resolution such as Alternative Dispute Resolution (hereinafter: ADR) should be researched and explored as well. ADR offers various opportunities to maintain the autonomy of all disputing parties, including the taxpayer. 

In the field of (Alternative) Dispute Resolution there is already a lot of academic research available. Recent perspectives show that there is no “universal conflict resolution theory” or one system that is applicable to all kind of disputes. Therefore we designed a Flexible Multi-Tier Dispute Resolution for international tax disputes which can offer a full panoply of dispute resolution processes. The tiers of this system involve: the prevention of disputes, dealing with disputes and using the assistance of third persons to deal with disputes. In order to extend and to develop this pluralistic dispute resolution system, we first research the most import existing dispute resolution procedures in domestic tax law. Naturally, we also analyze whether these procedures are effective or not. With this inventory, we are able to initiate and carry out further future research in time. In the second part of our research we concentrate more specific on mediation as one part of this broader system of dispute resolution. The OECD’s Manual on Effective Mutual Agreement Procedures already suggests mediation as an opportunity to improve the MAP process and some tax treaties took over this suggestion as part of the MAP but in practice these procedures are hardly used. 
One of the difficulties of mediation is that there is no comprehensive idea about what mediation is, how mediation should be implemented or how mediation should be initiated. Therefore in this research we try to develop a best practice for mediation, at least aiming to formulate a comprehensive definition about mediation and how it could be implemented in a MAP. The purpose of this research is to provide recommendations about the implementation of mediation in order to improve the MAP and to design a best practice that can be based on the results of research in purely domestic situations and what is already available in the international field e.g. at the ICC and WTO. This means that this research will concentrate on the most important requirements for mediation in international tax cases aiming to improve the efficiency of the MAP. Finally we would like to see whether mediation can also improve the position of taxpayers and provide the opportunity for taxpayers to participate directly in the outcome of the MAP. 

Multilateralization of International Tax Law

Postdoctoral research fellow in charge: Ricardo Garcia

This project focuses on the validity and use of multilateral frameworks in light of the current developments in international taxation. Whereas the major international trade agreements are multilateral (i.e. WTO), increasingly, scholars argue that the current challenges of international taxation cannot be longer confined to bilateral treaties. As such, the effective implementation of the worldwide automatic exchange of information would ensure a more transparent environment in the field of mutual assistance. Furthermore, the entrenchment of a multilateral approach in international taxation is also embedded within the BEPS project. The Action 15 of the BEPS Action Plan provides for the development of a multilateral instrument to implement the measures that have been reached in the course of the BEPS project and amend bilateral treaties. 
This phenomenon of multilateralism as a new mode of governance in international taxation triggers important research questions to which this research project intends to provide an answer. Firstly, which are the pros and cons of using a multilateral framework for tax matters? Secondly, how do the developments in the BEPS Project affect the network of bilateral tax treaties in force, (i.e. Action 6 of BEPS dealing with tax treaty abuse practices)? Thirdly, since the taxpayer's rights are always deferred to the national state, would a multilateral instrument be the suitable mechanism to protect taxpayer's rights? Fourth, which are the possible mechanisms to effectively enforce a multilateral instrument, taking into account the traditional strong resistances of the states to comply with international obligations? 
The starting point of this research project is to shed light on the definition of multilateralism. Therefore, the first task pursues to place under scrutiny the current “forms” of multilateralism on international taxation. Not only a critical assessment needs to be done concerning the current multilateral framework, but also by pointing out the shortcomings, loopholes and mismatches. The research argues that there is room for improvement and for achieving a real Global International Tax Law. The second part of the research is devoted to pulling out a uniform and consistent bill of taxpayer’s rights in a fragmented legal system that serves as a basis for the achievement of a multilateral framework of rights. Finally, this research project focuses on the interplay between the multilateral treaty produced in the context of Action 15 BEPS and the current treaty networks. 


Research & Development in Taxation (EURIDTAX project)

IBFD staff: Prof. Dr Pasquale Pistone, Prof. Dr João Nogueira, Belema Obuoforibo, Dr Paolo Arginelli, Dr Aleksandra Bal


Partners (other than IBFD): University of Alicante (Spain), Prof. Dr Maria Teresa Soler Roch; University of Lausanne (Switzerland), Prof. Dr Robert Danon; University of Lund (Sweden), Prof. Dr Cécile Brokelind; University of Lisbon (Portugal), Prof. Dr Ana Paula Dourado; Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), Prof. Dr Edoardo Traversa; WU Wien (Austria), Prof. Dr Pasquale Pistone and Dr Paolo Arginelli.

In 2015 Gerardine Doyle, UCD Dublin (Ireland) and Raymond Luja, University of Maastricht (Netherlands) joined the research group.

The research project arose from the finding that there is an exponential growth of tax preferential regimes officially justified by the need to promote research and development in Europe (including the IP box and the patent box regimes). They are included within the policies of using public resources for fostering R&D activities. Nonetheless, in practice, these regimes create problems for the stability of the tax systems, as they may be viewed as engaging in harmful tax competition. The research group aims to study them and to outline their profiles of compatibility with the European Union law and international tax law.

The research is carried out in connection with the report for one of the main subjects of the IFA 2015 Basel Congress, Tax Incentives on Research and Development (R&D), whose general reporter is Prof. Dr Robert Danon (one of the members of this project). The results of the research have also be presented in Basel at the seminar on patent boxes (chaired by Prof. Dr María Teresa Soler Roch and involving two more EURIDTAX members on the panel) and within the main topic of discussion with two more presenters besides the general reporter.

At the end of May 2015, a two-day invitation seminar was held at IBFD, attended by most researchers who are members of the EURIDTAX research group. Speakers presented on topics connected with the research and linked their work to their preparation for the IFA Basel main topic 1 and seminar. Although not open to the public, this meeting got the attention of the OECD, who sent Mr David Bradbury to this meeting. As a follow-up of the invitation seminar, IBFD Academic started informal talks with the OECD about possible joint ventures on this field.
The OECD sees EURIDTAX as an indisputable partner in their research plans for the future. 

Tax issues of Developing Countries and Sustainable Tax Transparency Project (DeSTaT Project)

IBFD Postdoctoral research fellow in charge: Dr Alessandro Turina


Partners (other than IBFD):University of Oslo (Norway): Prof. Dr Frederik Zimmer (Head of the Project); other members of the Oslo Unit: Anna Berna Passalacqua (Peru), Blazej Kuzniacki (Poland) and Ulrika Gustafsson-Myslinski (Sweden).


WU Vienna (Austria): Prof. Dr Pasquale Pistone, acting as co-head of the “North Unit” of the Project; other members of the Vienna Unit: Thomas Dubut (France), Dr Irma Mosquera (Netherlands/Colombia), Prof. Dr Jeffrey Owens, Dr Alessandro Turina (Italy) and Prof. Dr Martin Zagler.


USP University of São Paulo (Brazil): Prof. Dr Luis Eduardo Schoueri (Head of the Antenna); other members of the Brazilian Antenna: Carlos de Almeida, Jefferson de Souza, JF Bianco, Mateus Calicchio Barbosa, Mauro Silva, Paulo Da Rocha, Pedro Schoueri, Victor Polizelli and Caio Takano.


Instituto Colombiano de Derecho Tributário (Colombia): Natalia Quiñones (Head of the Antenna); other members of the Colombian Antenna: Adrian Rodríguez, Carolina Rozo, Catalina Hoyos, Cecilia Delgado Ratto (Peru), Diego González Bendiksen (currently at OECD), Diego Quiñones, Mauricio Marín, Natalia Aristizabal and Juan Esteban Sanín.


University of Cape Town (South Africa): Prof. Dr Jennifer Roeleveld and Prof. Dr Craig West (Heads of the Antenna); other members of the South African Antenna: Prof. Johann Hattingh, Sharon Smulders, Patrick McCann, Christian Wiesenaar, Martie Foster, De Wet Devilliers, Ulrik Strandvik and Bruce Russell.


Universidad de la República (Uruguay): Prof. Dr Addy Mazz (Head of the Uruguayan Antenna); other members of the Uruguayan Antenna: Andres Blanco, Cristian Billardi (Argentina), Guillermo Nieves, Dr Juan Manuel Albacete, Juan Manuel Bonet, Ignacio Pérez, Milagros Acosta, Omar Tuvi and Pablo Ferreri.


Internal scientific auditor: Prof. Dr Irene Burgers, University of Groningen.
The research project is coordinated by a research unit at the University of Oslo under the supervision of Prof. Frederik Zimmer. It is funded by the Research Council of Norway, following a selective international call. 


IBFD’s support for this project follows the request made by the group on 3-5 July 2013, during the yearly meeting held at the WU University of Vienna.


The core goal of the DeSTaT collaborative research project is to explore the opportunities and challenges faced by developing countries in the current climate of global fiscal transparency. The final output of this empirical analysis shall be the definition of comprehensive best practices that are derived not from a top-down decisional process but from a bottom-up survey carried out, as far possible, at the “field study” level.


In this respect, the research project aims at achieving a fruitful North-South dialogue, where, North Research Units are entrusted with the drafting of questionnaires that are then addressed by the Southern Research Antennae. To this end, while maintaining the necessary academic independence, local Antennae have often engaged in fruitful dialogue with the local tax administrations. The presence of a “BRICS” country in each of the two geographic samples is meant to show that, within the broader taxation and development discourse, there is room for a plurality of perspectives, especially when the samples include countries that have a more established tradition in international tax law and, arguably, a comparatively more sophisticated tax administration. The representation of all BRICS countries is at the same time helpful in achieving the goals scheduled for 2014 and 2015 (that is, producing sound research results regarding taxation in the BRICS and, as a consequence, enhance visibility of IBFD in this group of countries).
Topics that are covered year by year are selected from a pool of broad thematic areas, encompassing some of the most topical issues in the current international tax policy debate, as jointly identified by all participating units. South Research Antennae address these topics in parallel seminars whose proceedings are condensed in seminar papers. Said seminar papers constitute the basis from which “meta-articles”, which reconcile the various findings from the concerned jurisdictions in a thematic matrix, are derived. Meta-articles also represent the main publication output of the research project at the international level and constitute one of the main areas of cooperation between DeSTaT and the IBFD.


The topics covered so far include: i) General tax treaties vs TIEAs; ii) Aggressive tax planning; iii) FATCA and its implementation in developing countries: iv) Tax information and the prohibition of retroactivity; v) Taxpayer’s rights; vi) Revenue sharing in exchange of information; vii) Automatic exchange of information; viii) SMEs and simplified regimes; ix) Taxpayer procedural rights in exchange of information; x) BEPS and developing countries; xi) Transparency and legal interpretation by tax authorities; xii) Transfer pricing documentation requirements and developing countries; xiii) Withholding taxes and transparency; xiv) The shift from bilateralism to multilateralism in international taxation from the perspective of developing countries; xv) Cooperative compliance in developing countries; xvi) IT and transparency in developing countries.
There is a recent proposal to cooperate with the OECD in the sense of sharing the findings for some of the investigated areas and of providing further inputs regarding the relations that the OECD Tax and Development project is establishing with tax administrations in Latin America and Africa. On the OECD side, this would enrich the OECD agenda with academic contributions which are both independent and diverse. On the research project side, this would allow for a greater dissemination impact at the policy level, which is one of the ultimate goals of DeSTaT. Some draft meta-articles have already been shared with the OECD. All of them shall be delivered at the final meeting, to be held on 27-29 June 2016 in Oslo.


Despite the natural four-year term of the Project expiring in June 2016, in the course of 2015 the Research Council of Norway agreed to grant DeSTaT a 1-year extension in view of furthering the analysis of the challenges emerging from the BEPS Project in the perspective of developing countries.


Besides the involvement in all phases of DeSTaT from drafting of questionnaires to meta-articles, IBFD was actively involved in several regional meetings of the DeSTaT Antennae.


On 18 March 2015, DeSTaT had the opportunity to concretize its earlier mentioned fruitful dialogue with international organizations active in the same policy areas by attending, upon invitation by the Organizers, a meeting of the OECD “Tax and Development” Task Force. The meeting dealt with “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and Developing Countries”. DeSTaT was represented by Professor Pasquale Pistone and Dr Alessandro Turina. Materials providing an overview of the DeSTaT research project were circulated among participants – mostly officials from the Tax Administrations of developing countries, NGOs and other international organizations. Professor Pistone also made the voice of DeSTaT be heard in relation to one of the issues discussed at the meeting, namely the use of tax incentives in developing countries, by intervening in the debate following the morning session. The meeting also proved beneficial in terms of networking with Tax Officials from various African and Latin American countries, who expressed great interest in the project. 

Another important international recognition for DeSTaT took place on 2 July 2015, when two members of the North Antenna, Professor Pasquale Pistone and Dr Irma Mosquera participated as speakers in the conference “Pay Taxes Where you Add the Value” organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands. Dr Mosquera presented on the application of international standards including the Global Standard of Automatic Exchange of Information in Colombia. Prof. Pistone reacted to this presentation and to two other presentations dealing with tax incentives in Vietnam and tax avoidance and negotiation of tax treaties in Rwanda. These three presentations were given in the course of the afternoon session titled: “Support to developing countries: How to assist them to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance and to collect their fair share of taxes?”. This conference gathered business, government representatives, OECD officials, and representatives from international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

On 1 and 2 October, two DeSTaT members (Irma Mosquera, Alessandro Turina) actively participated in the launching conference of the WU Tax and Good Governance Initiative. In the course of the same event, Irma Mosquera was also appointed as discussant to the panel on “Changing the Dynamics of the Relationship between Tax Administrations and Taxpayers”.

Furthermore, four members of DeSTaT have been invited to present the output of their research on the panels of the 2015 IFA Basel Congress (Addy Mazz, Pasquale Pistone, Jennifer Roeleveld and Luis Schoueri).

DeSTaT members (namely, Addy Mazz and Pasquale Pistone) were also prominently featured (Pasquale Pistone being the Chair) in the Panel devoted to the presentation of the bilateral version of the ILADT Model Convention at the XXVIII Jornadas Latinoamericanas de Derecho Tributario held in Mexico City in November 2015. In the course of the same event, DeSTaT members Alessandro Turina and Menita De Flora delivered an input statement on the challenges of multilateralism for administrative tax cooperation in the framework of the session devoted to “The Challenges of International Taxation in Latin America”.

The year 2015 also marked an important moment for international dissemination of research results by DeSTaT as the first batch of meta-articles developed by the project and dealing, inter alia, with topical issues such as aggressive tax planning in developing countries or FATCA and automatic information exchange implementation in developing countries will be made available as working papers in view of subsequent publication.

Taxation of the Financial Sector (FTT Project)

IBFD team: Prof. Dr Pasquale Pistone, Prof. Dr João Nogueira, Belema Obuoforibo (Director of IBFD’s Knowledge Centre), Ola Ostaszewska and Fabiola Annacondia (Knowledge Centre). Andrei Cracea (in the meantime he left the Knowledge Centre) has also contributed to this research project.

Partners (other than IBFD): University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Prof. Dr Hein Vermeulen; Mendel University of Brno (Czech Republic), Prof. Dr Danuše Nérudová; Corvinus University of Budapest (Hungary), Prof. Dr Daniel Déak; Catholic University of Piacenza (Italy), Prof. Guglielmo Maisto; Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), Prof. Dr José Manuel Almudí Cid and Prof. Dr Fernando Serrano Antón; University of Oxford (UK), Dr John Vella and Dr Giorgia Maffini; WU Vienna (Austria), Prof. Dr Claus Staringer, Carmel Said Formosa and Eleni Apostolidou (as a external researcher – visiting researcher at WU) and Christian Sternberg and Dr. Caroline Heber (Max Planck Institute) There are also individual (non-institutional) partners coming from different parts of the world, including countries such as Colombia and others.

IBFD (Academic and Knowledge Centre) together with other leading institutions and researchers that were already working in the field of transactions taxes decided to join forces and create a collaborative research project in this area. This project aims to study the impact of the financial transaction tax, proposed by the European Commission, in our economy. The study also covers the compatibility of the proposal with primary EU law and in particular with the rules on enhanced cooperation.

The first written outcomes of this research project were already published. Heber and Sternberg have published a paper in the first edition of 2016 of the WTJ. Two doctoral researchers have in the meantime defended their PhDs in 2015: Eleni Apostolidou from University Paris 1 Sorbonne-Panthéon, France (thesis title: The Introduction of an EU FTT through the Enhanced Cooperation Procedure), and Carmel Said Formosa, from WU Wien, Austria (thesis title: An Analysis of Financial Transaction Tax as proposed by the European Commissions’ Proposal for Enhanced Cooperation COM(2013) 71, An Interdisciplinary Approach).

The first book is nearing completion. Most of the chapters have already been delivered. Given the current situation at the EU level (a new amended directive is expected in the next months) the book was put on hold. We hope to revitalize it as soon as the new (and hopefully) definitive FTT proposal is released. We continue to monitor closely all developments in this field. 

Special Tax Zones

IBFD Postdoctoral research fellow in charge: Dr Antti Laukkanen

Research partners (apart from IBFD): Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Lodz, University of Vigo, USLA Ekaterinburg, Fudan University in Shanghai, University of Cape Town, University of Michigan Law School, IBDT in Brazil, ICDT in Colombia and Universidad de la República in Uruguay. A tax professional provides information from Turkey.

The concept Special Tax Zone (STZ) is used for very different kind of areas where tax regulations are more beneficial than in the generally applicable tax system of the surrounding jurisdiction or country. Special tax zones may be free trade zones (FTZ) within a certain economic development zone, such as the FTZ within Madeira’s special regime or the FTZs within the numerous economic development zones in China, or they may be called enterprise zones, free economic zones, free zones, tax-free zones, or similar. STZs may provide zero or low tax rates for corporate income tax, VAT or excise tax. The tax incentives may also be tax holidays, accelerated depreciation or incentives for research and development. These benefits are often limited for a certain period of time. Compared to pure tax havens, STZs rather intend to increase the well-being within the zone and the surrounding jurisdiction than provide tax advantages for foreign mailbox companies.  


STZs are popular especially in developing countries. Increasing pressure from the OECD, the European Union and single countries on profit shifting and tax base erosion along with tax haven considerations (as well as claims of distortion from domestic non-STZ companies) may have an impact on the future of the STZ tax benefits. This collaborative study aims to obtain a structured view on selected STZs, their tax incentives and practices, their acceptability, possibly classify the zones, and provide recommendations on the practices and tax issues for the STZ residence countries as well as for multinational enterprises, the OECD and the European Union.


IBFD provides the scope, framework and control of the study.