Michaela Merz

World Wide VAT

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For years we have organised the event “World Wide Value Added Tax” or abbreviated WWV. The Brits prophesied that with such a stupid name it would never be a success. For English speakers it sounds like World War Five. The event is not free, because we invest a lot of work, enthusiasm and passion and naturally we also have effective costs for the infrastructure. A chargeable event on this topic will never be successful. That was echoed by many others.

 

The question now is, how do we measure success? Is it a full Hallenstadion? By the number of paying guests? If the answer is yes, it will never be a success. But if it’s a matter of discussing the obscure and incredible cases, which the world of indirect taxes produces, of discussing the novelties in world-wide legislation with kindred spirits or worried persons, then we have long been a success.

Last week we again held such an event and I was warned. “You’ll have scarcely any participants, because the competitors are holding such an event at the same time, and that free of charge“. Good, I was grateful for the information, but it didn’t change my opinion much. The bank, where I have my mortgage, regularly invites me to free events. I attend, when the subject is of interest. But if the subject is really exciting, I would be willing to pay in any case. If the subject does not interest me, the cost-free drinks after the event will also not encourage me to go. Whether I conclude the next mortgage with my bank, depends on the conditions and I can scarcely believe that free events will change them at all.

That then is the basis of my philosophy. I want people to come, who appreciate our event and find it interesting and good. If no-one comes, we have done something wrong. Then we deserve to be punished by the absences. Those who want a free drink are in the wrong place anyway.

Our event 10 days ago was probably the most exciting to date. Five different people spoke and I was simply astonished. There is no subject, which a really good speaker could not present excitingly and this evening they all succeeded in presenting the topic even very entertainingly. It was technically brilliant, but at the same time not for a second boring. At many points one could laugh. Whow!! When was the last time you laughed over a technical subject?

We talked about robotics and their deployment in the field of tax processes. It is astonishing and exciting where human work can be replaced. We discussed the introduction of indirect taxes in the Middle East. With our guest, who works there, we gathered an astonishing quantity of background information and tips, how one could do it almost perfectly. A completely satisfactory solution apparently seems at present to be an unrealisable illusion. Then a short education on cultural differences. The introduction of a GST in India is a lesson in how the authorities can minimise the risk of fraud and pass on responsibility to the VAT payers.

This evening we spoke about combating tax fraud, whether in the context of the final VAT system in the EU, the introduction of split payment in Romania and Poland and also exchanged our experiences in connection with the introduction of SAF-t (Standard Audit File for Taxes). Suddenly the planned time was at an end, although there were still unanswered questions.

In the meantime I also know how one measures success. I sat in the back row and could keep an eye over the whole room and on all the participants. Success is measured by the number of those, who during the event pull out their telephone and do something else. I watched it. This evening we succeeded in a small miracle: only two of the people present pulled out their telephones and looked at them briefly. One of them then left – that was shortly before the end and after we had already overrun our time. Therefore I assume that he had looked at his watch and had to catch his train.

You can convince yourselves next time. Pay us a visit. For the undecided, we offer a refund guarantee. If you don’t like it and leave in the first half, you can write to me and your money will be refunded. We will again do everything to be exciting and entertaining so that no-one will want to go home.

I am already looking forward to winter 2018.

Image source: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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