From June 8, 2017 to June 10, 2017, working along with DHPG, we had the pleasure of welcoming numerous participants from Nexia firms to the 2017 Nexia International Tax Conference 2017 at Ebner Stolz in Cologne. We asked Mr. Franz Meller, an auditor and tax consultant who was one of the partners in charge of the event at Ebner Stolz in Cologne, to give us a summary.
Nexia visits Germany. How many participants did you welcome to Cologne? Which country sent the most participants and where was the smallest foreign delegation from?
We welcomed 138 delegates from 31 countries to Cologne. The largest delegation came from Germany, which is certainly attributable to the fact that the event was held in Cologne. There were also large delegations from the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and France. The smallest foreign delegations, with one participant each, came from Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Malta.
How is the venue for the event chosen? Is it similar to the Olympic Games or the World Cup?
As a rule, a city in which Nexia has a member firm is selected as the venue. It is important for all continents to take turns hosting the event. It is also important for the venue to be easy to get to since many participants come from far away. So the comparison with the Olympic Games or the World Cup is exactly right.
Where has the Nexia Tax Conference been held in the past, and how has the attendance changed?
The previous Tax Conference was held in Boston, and the next one will be held in Toronto in 2018. Overall there has been a steady increase in the number of people attending these conferences: the attendance in Cologne was the highest ever for an international tax conference. This shows us that the conferences are giving Nexia members what they need and want from an international meeting.
What sorts of expectations does the organizer of the Nexia Tax Conference have of this event?
The organizer (the International Tax Committee), which is made up of nine members, has two important goals for the International Tax Conference. First, it offers an ideal opportunity for professional discussions by international tax experts at the highest level. International tax issues and structuring are becoming increasingly significant for our clients. This means that it is essential for us to keep on top of tax-related developments in other countries, and that brings me to the second point: the event allows us to get to know our fellow Nexia members in person and discuss tax issues with them. I believe that holding these personal discussions and getting to know our Nexia partners are particularly important and even indispensable for our own work in the field of international taxation. The International Tax Conference, which also includes additional meetings on special topics, offers the ideal platform for this.
In addition to the cooperation with EMEA Tax Group, the Conference is also about hot topics in cross-border taxation. These topics included: How do individual countries deal with pass-through legal forms? What is the best way to structure cross-border taxation of artists and athletes? What developments are in the offing in the tax arena in the various countries? And in particular: what will be the tax consequences of Brexit and the Trump Administration in the United States? What were your personal highlights?
So many topics were discussed that it's hard for me to choose a special highlight. The discussions on pass-through legal forms and the extremely different ways they are treated in different countries were particularly intense. The updates we received from the individual member countries will be extremely helpful for our day-to-way work. I especially liked the presentation by Dr. Steffen Neumann, the head of the Tax Division in the Finance Ministry of North Rhine Westphalia, who spoke on current trends in tax law in North Rhine Westphalia and in Germany. Participants learned first-hand what to expect in tax law in Germany in the future. With all the complex topics, it is important not to forget the multiple opportunities for personal discussions with other Nexia members. For example, we spent a pleasant evening at a Cologne brewery, where we treated our guests to Cologne specialties and a glass or two of the local Kölsch beer, so that they could get to know more about the culture and way of life in Cologne.
In numerous in-depth meetings, the experts discussed topics such as real estate, transfer pricing, employee relocation and sales tax. Which topic does Ebner Stolz see as the focal point of the cooperation?
The main topics have already been mentioned. International transfer pricing, sales tax, international exchange of services, and global mobility tax services are an integral part of our day-to-day life. I would also add the topic of international tax structuring, when it comes to setting up international groups of companies in a tax-optimized manner. Ebner Stolz regularly holds prominent positions on the committees, and there are also lively discussions with international partners outside tax conferences, such as on the topic of sales tax, on which we are holding particularly intensive discussions; Nexia sales tax specialists even participate in our internal Ebner Stolz sales tax meetings.
What were the results of the conference? How will they specifically benefit our clients?
It was important for us to hear detailed presentations on how the key issues at the conference are handled in other countries. This is essential for our international tax consulting. The decisive factor here is that the discussions with our Nexia partners result in concrete recommendations for structuring in other countries, which we can pass on to our clients. For example, I personally discussed a structuring case involving the organization of a partnership in the United States with our US partners, who provided me with valuable structuring information, that we will immediately implement as we design the structure to be used. This ensures that our clients receive top-notch advice, both in Germany and abroad.
How would you sum up the Nexia Tax Conference?
I can only say that it was a highly successful conference. The number of participants, the atmosphere, personal discussions and professional presentations definitely met our expectations. Above all we gathered all sorts of information that we can immediately use to assist our clients. And last but not least, it was a lot of fun to host our Nexia colleagues in Cologne.