As the world cup reaches its conclusion at the end of the week, there are some interesting paralells between success in it and the approach business should take to BEPS.
Firstly, rules. In football like international tax we all need a common set of rules and their interpretation. In the run up to the world cup that appeared to be the case. But during the tournament some referees appeared a lot more lenient about some types of professional fouls and the Brazilian tactic of sharing out fouling duties. As a result teams became more physical and robust with no punishment. As an example in the Brazil Colombia game there were 54 fouls with 31 committed by Brazil (so much for the beautiful game). We do need agreed rules which are interpreted consistently, my concern is that we will see multiple rules going forward in tax. If so there will be physical and robust tackling by some fiscs without any yellow or red cards!
Secondly, we have seen the importance of team. Some teams have progressed further than expected due to their teamwork, discipline and strategy. There is a lesson for business here. Teamwork in approaching BEPS will get better results than following separate factional agendas. The danger of pursuing your own agenda was demonstrated by the Brazilian defence last night – they lost and heavily and seemed to be blaming each other for the debacle.
Thirdly, Football like BEPS is global. We need to find a way to make both these things work globally. Taking your ball away doesn’t work. Interestingly, the USA seems to have embraced football in this world cup if TV audiences vs other sports are an indication. The USA needs to do the same with BEPS and realise that if you are part of a global game you can’t dictate the rules but you can work to help make them sensible and appropriate.