Guest post: Insights from an International Tax Advisor...

Our latest guest post is courtesy of Mario van den Broek, Partner, International Tax Services at RSM Niehe Lancée Kooij in the Netherlands. Mario is one of the most senior tax professionals in our industry, and I am delighted to welcome him to the RSM World blog...

International tax structuring has undergone significant changes. Although the principles have not really changed, the implementation of tax structures indeed has. Whereas “ in the old days”, it was quite easy to put together boxes to find the most efficient structure for our clients, nowadays it is crucial to not only consider the substance of a structure from a tax perspective but also whether or not it is still worth it to a company to actually implement a supposedly efficient structure. In addition, we regularly come across companies that are left with advice on a structure, and even with the structure itself, but without any proper idea of how the benefits of the structure should be achieved and maintained.

That makes the role of a tax advisor only a more interesting one. It is important to stay on top of the most recent international tax developments, but also it is important to be able to be a sparring partner to a global operating company and form an opinion on different kinds of taxes (corporate tax, wage taxes, VAT) and elements (transfer pricing). In addition, it is crucial to act as a coordinator between the different countries where a company has operations. Our global operating clients need to focus on doing business but also have to realize that remaining in compliance with local tax regulations is a crucial element of doing business across borders. Of course, quite often, that is not the first matter of attention.

I could talk for hours about the different international tax developments and by referring to items such as treaty protection, beneficial ownership, tax control framework, exit taxation, transfer pricing, VAT reclaims and cross border mergers, I have already started to do that. But let me stop there as I would like to point out a different element that is key in building and implementing tax structures. Know what it is? Teamwork. And not teamwork created by collecting names of colleagues in a nice directory, no, I am talking about real team work which is established by meeting with each other, talking to each other face to face and meeting clients together.

As part of my role as international tax adviser I spend a lot of time working with my colleagues and although I try to stay up to speed with technology by for instance using Dropbox to share documents with my foreign colleagues on the new Ipad, or using Webex on my laptop to go through presentations page by page, nothing beats face-to-face cooperation.

Therefore, it is very important to create space to develop this process. I really make a point to travel, investing in time to both educate and learn from my colleagues. Even though my base lies in the Netherlands, I work in such a way with RSM partners all over the world. From New York to Sydney, from Hong Kong to Denmark, our success and our ability to distinguish ourselves from our competitors lies in the frequency of how often we meet with each other and work with each other. It makes for a strong, people focused network. That is what RSM is about.


Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer