Welcome to 2021! The End is (still) not nigh

So. It’s here. The finish line of 2020, our global annus horribilis. We’re now on the verge of a Very Happy New Year. Or so people keep saying on LinkedIn, which means it must be true. Professional and personal growth, health and untold wealth… who knows? Perhaps we really are turning the corner.

In previous years, Artikel104.nl has always sought to provide a couple of optimistic thoughts and wishes, to mark the crisp start of a bright New Year. Another successful trip around the sun is worth celebrating. In times of COVID, isolation, and economic downturn, a little bit of optimism can go a long way.

Leaving the Tax Bubble (I don’t recommend it)

Unfortunately, our editorial board, which is seated in Leiden (NL), is feeling distinctly non-optimistic. Truth be told, we’re pretty damn down. This time last year we lived in a blissfully cushioned tax bubble, basically ignoring most of reality. It was great! We talked about multinationals and ethics and BEPS and how much tax other people should be paying. But in the sobering light of COVID, it also starts to feel a little, well, decadent. When all is said and done, does it actually matter what the French Supreme Court thinks of digital PE’s? Or whether there is such a thing as an EU arm’s length standard? These are not life or death issues.

And yes, obviously taxation is fundamental to society and expresses our deepest public feelings on justice and fairness, albeit often in an abstract manner. But since corona became a thing, I’ve started watching the actual News (as opposed to bits and pieces that The Facebook Algorithm sends my way). I can only conclude that life outside the bubble is absolutely atrocious. For example, I have learned that the Netherlands is facing so-called Code Black (hardcore triage) in the health sector, while simultaneously having to deal with hordes of marauding arsonists. I was also appalled by the number of illegal raves, partying like there’s no tomorrow. (Although to be fair, they might be right on the last point.)

No end in sight, but rising to the challenge

In times of crisis, pessimism isn’t helpful. Realism, by contrast, is. When I say that the COVID crisis in the Netherlands is only just beginning, this is not intended as hyperbole.

This is not the beginning of the new ‘roaring twenties’ that we all yearn for. 2021 will be more of the same, but probably worse. At the same time, the (tax) world isn’t about to collapse. Indeed, in many ways, our own sector has risen to the corona-challenge. We even have our unsung corona-heroes. Two groups in particular deserve a special mention.

  • First and foremost, tax lecturers at the universities, who made the transition to digital teaching with amazing speed and grace. I don’t think students fully appreciate the effort that has gone into the emergency evac of the tax degree programs to cyberspace. The International Fiscal Association (IFA) should also be mentioned; the 2020 IFA Conference was also entirely online. So should those patiently encouraging and mentoring the next generation of tax professionals.
  • Secondly, all of our tax colleagues who, in many different ways, helped roll out COVID aid measures by assisting businesses and self-employed people with claiming aid due in a responsible and ethical manner (sadly, not all tax advisors met these last standards, but still: some did and we should focus on them).

Well done and thank you.

Good wishes to all!

These are uncertain times, but one thing is clear: for many people 2021 is going to be a difficult year. Now more than ever, Artikel104.nl wishes everyone the very best. May we meet again!


About Anna Gunn

Fiscaliste met de specialisaties EU-belastingrecht en fiscale exotica. Geruime praktijkervaring met fiscale staatssteun.

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