Jan 122016

I would like to wish all my readers, both old and new, a Happy New Year for 2016. I hope that your year goes well, and that you all get the things that you deserve the most (which is not the same as what you want!)

All quiet on the Western Front

Some of you may have noticed that there has been a Big Quiet on this site over the last month or so. I haven’t been posting often and I haven’t been doing the rounds on my favorite (?) social media sites. Occasionally I drop by and say a word or two, and then vanish like the proverbial will o’ the wisp. “Where’s Satwaki?” I hear you ask. And even more important: “Where are all those articles he promised us?” (I never actually promised…)

Unfortunately, a lot of very unpleasant events have been happening recently. Around the time of the Autumn Statement, I succumbed to the local virus that was doing the rounds, and then a close family member was seriously ill in hospital. Just as they came out, and the New Year came in, another close family member and a childhood friend both made their own departures.

So, I am very sorry but I have not really had the time to write for Tax Notes. I have been spending more of my time in the real world, and dealing with the more important things in life. (Do you know, there are some people who actually think of social media as their real world? Well, I suppose it’s real enough for them. Though when someone shows me a spectacular film of the sea on their latest gadget with the waves seeming to leap out of the screen as they crash against the rocks, I always think of how much more real it looks like in real life.)

However, time goes on. And eventually the sun shines again, even when you happen to live in the British Isles. And hopefully, the articles will start to appear again on this site.

Thank you to old friends – International Tax Plaza

I would like to say a special thank you once again to Alain Thielemans and Malgorzata Gergelewicz, co-founders of the International Tax Plaza. As ever, their support has always been most valuable. Though I have to say I do feel guilty when I see comments from Alain, like: “This is why I always keep a look out for articles on Tax Notes,” because there haven’t been that many recently!

The International Tax Plaza has come a long way since it was first started a few years ago. I have written a short review of the site – the “go-to” site for anyone interested in international tax. At the time that it first started, it had a daily newstream and links to the various Double Tax Treaties, the OECD Model Convention, a FACTA page, an EU page and also a link to all the most important cases on European law.

It still has all these features, but with some refinements. There is a Calendar, which allows you to see what important international tax events are coming up – when will the next OECD Report be out, or when is the next meeting of intergovernmental civil service busybodies going to take place. All very useful.

There is also a Column where Alain provides his own insights on current international tax issues. I like this particular one where he says:

“Most (ex-)colleagues who have worked with me probably remember how much I have discouraged them to answer a tax question from the top of their head without checking what the Law or a DTA exactly states.” [my emphasis.]

(Hmm, I wonder how many times I’ve done that? Oh wait, I can’t do that. Anyone remember why I quote the legislation in my articles?)

But perhaps the most exciting feature that Alain and Malgorzata have added is the Jobs Board. Loads and loads of new jobs for those in the tax world seeking a change of employer. And for employers, it is worth posting your job advert on the Plaza which has gradually become a recognised resource for tax professionals around the world.

Thank you to new friends – World.tax

World.tax is another international tax site, where one can compare the tax, legal and regulatory systems of various jurisdictions around the world. They have various online tools which allow a comparison not only between Double Tax Treaties but corporate and other business structures (Cyprus Private Company, or Seychelles IBC anyone?), even trusts from different jurisdictions.

Well well well. Some of that could have come in handy in 2001 when I was a junior tax lawyer and asked by my boss to “look around the internet” to find out how to structure a Russian investment through a Cyprus and Netherlands Antilles company. If only we had such tools then…

How did I get involved in World.tax? Obviously people have been reading my articles! I was approached by Director Costas Demetriades last year, who said he thought that my work would be interesting to the members of his site. So we agreed that if I had something interesting that I’d written, I would let him know, and he would arrange to have it published. And gradually, it has developed to the stage where I have my own little author profile which says that I write for them quarterly (hmm, not sure I like that last bit!)

I have to say, what I have found most impressive is the way that their IT people have managed to replicate my work on their site – the diagrams and even the footnotes, which usually give me no end of trouble. A very professional group of people indeed.

Open for business

I have, gradually over the last year, been taking on paid commission work. People have seen the articles on Tax Notes and have asked me whether I’d like to do a little writing work for them. It started slowly, some of the people who I wrote for liked what they read, and I got more work. One person I am particularly grateful to is Rebecca Cave, the well known tax author. Rebecca’s works include Capital Gains Tax Reliefs for SMEs and Entrepreneurs and she also edits Sumption on CGT to which I have already contributed to, updating the odd chapter or two.

People also ask me if I can give them tax advice from time to time. Not too surprising, since this is a site called Tax Notes, written by a professional, so it is natural to assume that tax advice is what the professional does to earn his living.

But I don’t actually give tax advice anymore – not for a long time. I took a long break from the tax world years ago, and Tax Notes was my way of getting back into that world. I am not a City slicker anymore and I have no present intention of becoming a sardine again, whether by courtesy of Great Western Trains or London Underground.

No, writing is what I do, and writing is what I do best. Though I didn’t envisage that it would be like this when I started out all those years ago. It was Maurice Parry-Wingfield who first introduced me to the delights of writing articles, when he was a Tax Director at Deloitte. Maurice has written gazillions of articles for Tax Journal and, being one of the bigwigs of the tax world, I cannot place too high a value on the encouragement he gave me. Though I had no intention of being a “writer” then. I only wrote a few articles and notes for the Tax Policy people at Deloitte because I had no work to do at the time, and thought that writing might raise my profile, and would get me more client facing work.

Fat chance! But I took my writing with me when I left Deloitte and carried on whenever I joined my new employers. Writing client newsletters, briefing notes – even writing my boss’s lecture notes on leases, for a conference where he had so foolishly agreed to be one of the speakers (I still have one half of the “commemorative” gift that the organisers gave to us. It was a square piece of perspex, the shape of a beermat with a sickly looking piece of algae trapped inside.) Eventually I became a Professional Support Lawyer for a short time in the City before taking a long break away from the rat race.

And now I’m writing again, years later, on my own website. I am still amazed that people stop by to read the articles, even inviting me to be a linkedin connection simply on the basis that they have enjoyed what they’ve read. Most gratifying indeed.

So, thank you once again to all my readers. I hope that your holidays were more peaceful than mine and that the coming New Year will bring you joy wherever you are.

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Satwaki Chanda

Satwaki Chanda

Satwaki Chanda is a tax lawyer with a First Class degree in Mathematics. Called to the Bar in 1992, he is the Editor of Tax Notes.
Satwaki Chanda

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