Friday, July 10, 2009

A week in Oxford

I've just completed a week in Oxford (with family), attending a Summer Symposium and a Summer Conference held by the Centre for Business Taxation at the Said Business School at Oxford University. More shortly on the substance, including my own two talks (one on the main problems with the U.S. international tax rules, the other on the Obama Administration's international tax proposals). But anyway, most of the world is heading towards an exemption system for outbound investment by resident multinationals (a term of art, of course, as corporate residence isn't a meaningful concept). Today I compared the U.S., which is potentially headed in the other direction, to the boy in the high school parade of whom his proud mother says: "Will you look at that! Everyone is out of step except for my son, Johny!"

One amusing moment today came in a discussion of U.K. law. One issue is UK companies threatening to "expatriate" if the home company rules don't become more favorable. A second issue is ongoing litigation by HM Treasury on economic substance-type grounds.

On the latter, someone from the audience said something about how pretty soon some companies will be singing "the Clash song, 'I Fought the Law and the Law Won.'"

One of the speakers very promptly responded: "Or rather, 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?'"

OK, maybe you had to be there, but it was quite quick and funny in context.

I've also taken enough time off from the conference to go to Blenheim Palace and the slightly Disneyized but nonetheless interesting Warwick Castle. And the conference festivities included a humbling experience punting along the river (how Charles Dodgson could extemporize Alice in Wonderland while punting I'll never understand), and an amusing performance of Twelfth Night. Tomorrow, Stonehenge, and then a week in London.

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