The first International Taxation Conference was held in Mumbai in December 1995. Over the years, it has established itself as one of the leading annual conferences on the subject internationally. Today, the conference is recognized for its world class quality and an opportunity for professional networking and marketing. It is now a truly global annual event on the subject of international taxation. Prior to 2006, the conference was managed jointly with the Bombay Management Association, a very old and prestigious organization in the field of management. As from 2006, this “Bombay Conference” is organized wholly by the Foundation for International Taxation.
The Foundation for International Taxation (FIT) is a registered educational charitable trust in India established to promote the knowledge and understanding of international taxation. It was set up in January 2006 by Professor Roy Rohatgi along with a group of leading tax professionals in the country. From 2006, the annual International Taxation Conference in Mumbai is run by the Foundation. It was felt that we needed a body dedicated to the advancement of the technical knowledge of the subject in the region to meet the growing needs of professionals and industry as well as revenue officials and judiciary.
When it started in the mid-nineties, it was a pioneer as the only conference on international taxation issues in India. There was a need for training professionals on the subject. As a result, the conference was conceptualized to educate them on international tax principles and practices in various countries. The emphasis was on international tax planning as professional advisors needed to understand tax treaties and tax planning techniques in a global business world. From 2001, its emphasis has gradually changed from international tax planning to international tax learning and today it is a truly technical conference on the subject. Its prime objective is to disseminate knowledge and provide a better understanding of global international tax practices, developments and trends. This neutral approach as an international conference also differentiates it from other conferences held in the region. The name of the conference was changed to “International Taxation Conference” to reflect this change.
The change in emphasis was dictated by the needs of both taxpayers and tax officials. With increasing globalization, the subject of international taxation is of as much importance to the tax collectors as it is to taxpayers. International tax involves more than one country and any unilateral action by tax authorities of a country can lead to double taxation for the taxpayer. Both taxpayers and officials need to improve their knowledge and understanding to avoid conflicts on international tax issues. As a technical conference, it now welcomes each year a large number of officials from the Indian and foreign tax administrations, both as delegates and speakers. In recent years, we have welcomed members of the tax judiciary as well. During the conference, tax officials interact informally with delegates from the profession and industry in India and abroad, and share their views with other experts on the subject. Over the years, it has also become a global conference with large number of speakers and delegates from the region as well as Europe, North America, Latin America and Australasia.
The conference is held annually in co-operation with the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation and Asia-Pacific Tax Bulletin in the Netherlands and the International Fiscal Association – India Branch. Other organizations which have contributed to our past success include the Bombay Chartered Accountants’ Society and the Bombay Management Association. We also receive regular support with speakers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris (France). For several years, Edelman has helped us with conference promotion and the ITC Maratha hotel has provided us a high-class conference venue. In addition, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce provides us with organizational support for our annual conference.
The prime objective of the Foundation remains educational to provide a forum for the interchange of ideas among business and professional people, academics and government officials on tax issues from an international perspective at an annual conference. Besides the conference, the Foundation now has other activities to promote the knowledge and practice of international taxation. They now include publications, training and scholarship on international taxation.
For example: Publications: The Foundation supported the publication by Taxmann Publications of the paperback edition of Professor Roy Rohatgi’s book on “Basic International Taxation” (Second Edition) in India under the FIT logo in 2005/2007. In 2007, it arranged for the publication under its logo of the reprint of the book by Roy Saunders et al on “The Principles of International Tax Planning” by Taxmann Publications. In 2009 & 2010, Taxmann published the summary proceedings of our annual conference, as prepared by us, for global distribution.
Training: In 2010, the Foundation ran a basic course on Indian international taxation covering interpretation of tax treaties. Its success has motivated us to repeat the course in April 2011. In February 2011, it ran a unique e-training course on advanced issues in tax treaties in Mumbai. This three-day course in Mumbai was given by five professors from the Vienna University of Economics and Business based in Austria using video-conferencing techniques.
Scholarship: In 2011, the Foundation launched its FIT Scholarship Scheme in co-operation with the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria. Under this scheme, the Foundation invites applications from throughout India for admission to the one-year LLM programme in international taxation at the University. The selected scholar is guaranteed admission to the Course and the Foundation agrees to pay the tuition fees. The person is selected by a FIT Selection Committee comprising leading international tax professionals in the country. Our first “FIT Scholar” in 2011 is Mr. Nilesh Kapadia. Nilesh is an experienced tax professional in Mumbai. Our scheme also provides us with an opportunity to recommend other applicants to leading overseas institutions in international taxation.
However, our main objective remains so far to educate our professionals through an international conference experience in India by inviting renowned tax experts as speakers and delegates to our country every year. It provides them a forum to educate and share global taxation knowledge and experiences, and to enable closer networking among them.
The conference is now recognised as one of the leading technical conference on the subject of international taxation in the world today. In 2010, our delegation registration exceeded 500 senior professionals from over thirty countries.
The conference attracts both outstanding speakers and high quality delegates. It invites speakers, who are renowned international experts, from the profession, academia and governmental bodies to make presentations at this conference. They are carefully selected to blend in with the conference objectives and the needs of our delegates each year. International taxation is a complex subject. Not only do these speakers share their own knowledge and experience, but they also communicate their ideas and expertise to the delegates in a professional environment.
The conference follows the same format each year. There are around fifteen speakers, of which at least two-thirds are from abroad. The conference also adopts a theme based on an international tax topic of current relevance and a recognized world-renowned authority on the topic is invited as a special speaker. For the past seven years our conference theme and special speakers have been as follows:
In 2001, 2003 and 2005, we welcomed Professor Klaus Vogel from Germany as our speaker and conference chairman. Professor Vogel does not need an introduction to any professional, who is interested in international taxation. His lifetime contribution to this subject has been enormous. For all of us who know his writings well he was a world authority on the interpretation of double tax treaties. His classic book (last published in 1997) is widely quoted by judicial bodies globally, including the Indian Supreme Court and the Authority for Advance Rulings in India. Professor Vogel passed away in December 2007. He will be greatly missed by all of us at the Foundation.
Some of the other eminent speakers who have spoken at our past conferences include Jacques Sasseville from the OECD in Paris. It was a great tribute to the quality of this conference to have him speak to us for two years’ running in 2003 and 2004. Mary Bennett from the OECD in Paris was our special speaker in 2006. Other international speakers include Professor Richard Vann from Australia, Professor Daniel Sandler from Canada, Professor David Rosenbloom from the United States, Professor Jean Pierre Legall from France, Professor Arvid Skaar from Norway and Professor Michael Lang from Austria to name a few. Last year, Mr. B M Singh (past Chairman – CBDT in India) was one of our speakers in 2006 and a discussion panel member in 2007. The conference also attracts a wide range of specialist speakers in our several panel discussions. Over the years, the conference has hosted nearly 300 speakers from more than 25 countries.
During 2004-2006, we were honoured by the presence of Honourable Justice Quadri, Chairman of the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR) in India. On each occasion, he had presided and spoken at the special session during the conference to discuss some of his rulings. Last year, Justice P V Reddi, the current Chairman of AAR, presided over our panel discussion on “Do Taxpayers have any Rights under International Taxation”. We have also invited Mr Vimal Gandhi, President, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, India to our conference this year. We trust they will continue to attend our conference in future and give us their active support. This year we have again International speakers with worldwide reputation in International Taxation.
Besides this conference, the Foundation has plans for other activities to promote the knowledge and practice of international taxation. They include research, educational activities and publications on international taxation. Last year, Taxmann Publications published my book on Basic International Taxation (Second Edition) jointly under our FIT logo. The prime objective of the Foundation remains to provide a forum for the interchange of ideas among business and professional people, academics and government officials on tax issues from an international (not domestic) perspective.
We request you review the other pages on this website for further details of the Foundation and its present and proposed activities. If you have any suggestions or wish to participate in the activities of the Foundation, please contact us.
We look forward to your support for the Foundation and its activities and to seeing you at our annual conference every December.