7th Regional Tax Conference, organized once a year by different American Chamber of Commerce from the CEE region, was held in Prague hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic. The annual tax conference brought together experts from around the CEE region to discuss the results of past reforms and debate tax policies at the national and European level. How can a country craft a tax policy that abets economic prosperity and stabilizes public finances, while at the same time contributes to the perception of a fair and honest society? This was one of the questions speakers tried to answer.
"The Annual Regional AmCham Tax Conference, is clearly the best tax meeting in the region. Its combination of senior government officials, business people, and other respected experts make this an excellent forum in which to share ideas and discuss views on developing issues in an informed and constructive way," said William Morris, Tax Officer of GE Corporate to the conference.
Key issue of this year´s tax conference was crisis and its impact on reforms. Speakers agreed that the crisis in Europe has shone a bright light on the importance of tax. Not just rates are important, but the ability to collect taxes of any kind at any level is crucial. Tax system doesn´t work if the government is not able to persuade its citizens to pay their required share, and cant´t prevent corruption within the ranks of its tax collectors. Governments across Europe are being challenged by citizens about who pays and who benefits from their existing system.
“The main lesson is that we will not have stable fiscal policy until we have a healthy economy, and that we will not have a healthy economy until tax policy is both predictable and supportive of private sector expansion,” added Weston Stacey, Executive Director of American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic.
Companies watch warily as governments search for ways to “enhance” revenue by subtracting from their profit. The creation of an European market prevents governments from treating companies as captive pawns of tax policy: in the increasingly competitive market with its razor thin profit margins, survival can depend on placing operations in countries with favorable tax policies.
„I believe it is in the interest of all of us to have a predictable tax system that lives on for years, a Tax system that provides clarity on requirements for businesses and individuals and a simple tax system which supports a healthy business environment, balanced state budget and good standard of living for residents,“ expressed his wish Douglas Brodman, Managing Director of Plzeňský Prazdroj.
The panel composed of business representatives agreed that taxes, when properly set up, can support economic development policy. Nevertheless the impact of tax policy on investment incentives, energy efficiency, tourism and private investment into research and development must be discussed and the policy set up based on conclusions.