Naomi Fowler ■ The Tax Justice Network in Kenya and Israel
Two important events this month: Tax Justice Network Africa organised the 3rd International Tax Justice Academy on the 12th-16th September 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Academy’s main objective is to strengthen the network working on tax justice issues in Africa and to enable different stakeholders to undertake advocacy through training on tax justice issues such as illicit financial flows, tax governance and domestic resource mobilisation in the African continent.
This year, the Academy’s theme was ‘Stop the Bleeding: Closing Tax Loopholes to fund Africa’s structural transformation.’ About 100 participants from many countries in Africa participated in the workshop and engaged in different sessions delivered by facilitators from civil society organisations, academia and public authorities. Tax Justice Network researcher and founder of Tax Justice Network Israel Moran Harari gave a presentation on Exchange of Information between nations in which she explained the various existing methods and legal frameworks available, while focusing on the current challenges from an African perspective. At the end of four intensive training days, the participants collaborated on an action plan for promoting tax justice in Africa. We’ll keep you updated on that.
Also this month in Israel, Tax Justice Network Israel (TJN IL) organised a roundtable on Beneficial Ownership registration and a General Mandatory Income Tax Reporting which was held on 19th September 2016 at the College of Management Academic Studies where TJN IL presented the findings of a draft report soon to be published on the Israeli context. Held in collaboration with the Ebert-Stiftung-Foundation the event included public officials, practitioners and academics.
Participating in the panel discussion was the manager of the Information Exchange Department of the Israeli Tax Authority, the legal advisor of the Israeli Corporation Authority, a representative of the Bank of Israel, the Vice Dean of the Law Faculty at the Hebrew University and a tax partner from Ernst & Young.
In Israel currently there is no register of the beneficial owners of corporations, although it has signed up to the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and to the USA’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). TJN IL has made a series of recommendations, including for Israel to create a register of Beneficial Ownership that should initially be made available for people who can prove a legitimate interest, with a move to making the register public at a later stage.
The discussion was insightful and very constructive. In general, most of the participants supported the idea of beneficial ownership registration, while for the public officials attending the idea of opening it up to the public seemed quite radical. It was clear that a discussion on these issues from a tax justice perspective was new for many of the participants and has opened the door for future cooperation with civil society organisations on tax justice issues in the public interest.
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