~~आयकर निर्देशिका २०६६~~
The man himself
Peter A. Harris is a solicitor whose primary academic interest is in tax law. He is a Professor in Tax Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom and Director of Studies and Fellow of Churchill College. He earned a Doctorate of Philosophy and a Master of Laws from the University in 1996 and 1992 respectively (Darwin College), as well as a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Queensland in 1991. Previously, Prof Harris was a Senior Lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Sydney. From January 1999 until July 2000 he served in the Washington D.C. based position of Technical Assistance Advisor for the Legal Department of the International Monetary Fund where he engaged in drafting income tax laws for developing countries. He continues to advise for the IMF as an external consultant. He has taught tax law (mainly as a visiting professor) at numerous universities including the University of Georgetown, the University of Sydney, the University of Leiden, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (Paris), the University of Florida, the University of Pretoria, the University of Auckland, the University of Melbourne, the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Utrecht University, the Norwegian School of Management, the Queensland University of Technology and London University. ProfProf Harris has had a consultancy arrangement with KPMG London since 2001. Since 2013 he has acted as a consultant for the Financing for Development Office of the UN.
Works of Peter Harris
Prof Harris is the author of numerous books, contributions to books and refereed articles. In particular, he is the author of Corporate Tax Law: Structure, Policy and Practice (2013: CUP); International Commercial Tax (2010: CUP); Contributing author, Comparative Income Taxation, 3rd Ed (2010: Kluwer); Editor & contributing author, Comparative Perspectives on Revenue Law (2008: CUP); Income Tax in Common Law Jurisdictions to 1820 (2006: CUP), Metamorphosis of the Australasian Income Tax (2002: ATRF) and Corporate/Shareholder Income Taxation and Allocating Taxing Rights Between Countries: A Comparison of Imputation Systems (1996: IBFD). An abridged version of the latter book won the International Fiscal Association’s Mitchell B. Carroll prize presented at the Association’s 50th Congress. That version was also awarded a Yorke Prize by the University of Cambridge. Prof Harris is the Director of the Centre for Tax Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Cambridge. He is the Academic Editor of the Cambridge Tax Law Series (CUP) and Assistant Editor (International) for the British Tax Review.
Tax solutions for developing countries
A holistic, informed approach
The ability of Professor Peter Harris of the Faculty of Law to see the woods for the trees when it comes to the complexities of tax law has placed him in a unique position. His ‘big picture’, no-nonsense approach means that he can give effective, realistic advice to developing countries and help them to create tax law systems that are truly fit for purpose. Harris has a sharp eye for what makes a tax system effective and where problems may arise. Out of this, he has developed an invaluable tool – a framework for a sound, workable tax system that can be shaped according to need.
As part of a package of support offered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to developing countries, Harris uses the framework as a starting point to assist in drafting tax laws that accurately reflect the particular needs of an individual nation. In 2000 Ghana passed into law a major reform assisted by Harris, and in 2010 he was invited back to review and help redraft it in the light of new oil discoveries. Both Nepal and Tanzania have successfully implemented new tax laws assisted by him, and Sierra Leone, Malawi and Nigeria are all in the process of considering some of his suggestions.
And because his unique approach also impressed the United Nations, it has used his research in in a number of publications designed to assist developing countries, giving his work global reach.
Closing the loopholes
Having a tax system that works is vital to a country’s stability and prosperity. The system must allow tax revenues to flow in, while being fair and easily understood by those who actually pay the taxes. Added to this, it has to be consistent with international treaties and the laws of other countries.
Taxation systems are often created piecemeal, with rules being changed or added over time. This can result in a disjointed system, dogged by loopholes and inconsistencies. For example, UK tax laws run to over 10,000 pages of legislation, and include at least five different ways of dealing with change of corporate control.
Similarly, many Commonwealth countries have been left with out-dated colonial tax systems that were amended in a haphazard way, resulting in unnecessary complexity. In order to attract much needed investment, and maximise the potential of natural resources such as oil or gas, developing nations need a robust, integrated and straightforward tax system. And it needs to fit into not only the particular needs of their country but also the wider international picture.
Seeing the bigger picture
Harris’s holistic approach has emerged from many years of studying national and international tax systems, particularly in developing countries. The broad knowledge and understanding he has gained enable him to look at tax issues in the round, and identify where change is needed. Much research on international taxation takes a narrow approach, focusing on particular rules and simply examining them in their current setting. Harris, by contrast, achieves a wide-angled view. His research provides a map of a tax system, highlighting intersections and dead-ends, and placing it within its global context.
Before drafting tax law for any particular country, Harris spends time there gathering information, negotiating with authorities and finding out what is needed. He then creates a tailor-made model which is put forward to the government as an official IMF proposal. Harris’s extensive knowledge, his sensitivity to the political and legislative climate of the countries he advises and his straightforward approach, bolstered by the targeted realism of the IMF, makes for a winning partnership that has helped many developing countries look confidently to the future.