Work Package (WP) 5: Expert Networks

WP Leader: University of Limerick, Sheila Killian

Other Partners: Copenhagen Business School

Objectives:

  • Identify the response of tax experts and practitioner to regulatory shifts
  • Identify mechanisms that will encourage tax professional to enhance compliance and fiscal regime effectiveness

Description of work:

  • The first goal is met by exploring how professional tax networks perceive their role in mediating tax regulation, and how this self-perception is impacted by a sudden change in regulation and culture. The research identifies the role gender plays in network composition and if and how this impacts on the way networks negotiate regulatory change. It determines whether the strategies employed by professions when tax regulation changes are imposed from outside of the jurisdictional boundaries of their operation are distinct from those employed in the face of national regulation and to whom the professional is accountable when dealing with transactions that go beyond a single jurisdiction. WP5 asks how the public interest is defined by professionals and their professional bodies and, in turn, how these definitions change under the pressure of regulatory innovation. Relatedly, it identifies the relationship of professional codes of ethics to the interest of the wider public, and traces whether this relationship is shifting to one more conducive to decreasing European inequalities by encouraging robust ethical behavior.
  • To meet these goals the research team conducts structured interviews with a range of expert actors, including lawyers, transfer pricing specialists, accountants and wealth managers. This is complemented by a survey of these professionals. The team provides content analysis of media and parliamentary debates during key periods of the OECD’s BEPS process and critical junctures in the recent and on-going evolution of the European fiscal regime. The responses of experts and professional networks are traced through analysis of submissions of professionals and professional bodies to consultations on policy initiatives and how they represent themselves at events such as conferences and specialist practice facing journals

Summary:

Professional claims to a public interest mandate acquire particular significance in the relationships between the state and financial experts. This relationship becomes more complicated when change is imposed, not directly by national government but by international bodies such as the EC or OECD Previous work by this subgroup has explored this in the context of self-regulation of professional accounting bodies, and has found that a tension between notions of expertise and public mandate characterises such struggles. For that reason, public demand for change in tax rules impacts directly on how the professional expert networks will respond, and so the role of civil society expertise and media is indirect but highly significant.

This work package addresses the following specific questions:

  • How do professional tax networks perceive their role in mediating tax regulation, and how idoes this self-perception impacted by a sudden change in regulation and culture?
  • What role does gender play in network composition and does this impact on how networks negotiate regulatory change?
  • What are the strategies employed by professions when tax changes are imposed from outside of the national boundaries?
  • What is the role of civil society experts and media in effecting attitudinal change?
  • How is the public interest defined by professionals and their professional bodies? Do these conflict and with what consequences? What is the relationship of professional codes of ethics to the interest of the wider public?
  • To whom is the professional accountable when outside their jurisdiction of regulation e.g. the professional in a tax haven?dealing with transactions that go beyond a single jurisdiction of regulation?
  • What steps recommendations can be made to can be taken to improve accountability in the public interest?
  • What role do codes of conduct play? Is there evidence they have worked? Are there effective sanctions? What are the alternatives?

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