U.K Study Tour - Tax Law and the West End
On Tuesday the 4th of February we woke up bright and early and had breakfast in the lobby of our hotel with our group and then took the underground to Trafalgar Square. The weather was fantastic so we spent about an hour wandering around and taking photos. We then proceeded to get some coffee and breakfast, then head into the National Gallery to admire some of the most renowned art in the world by artists such as Claude Monet and Picasso.
After the National Gallery we travelled to China Town and enjoyed a Chinese banquet lunch. China Town had a lot to offer, so we spent a while walking exploring the local shops.
We then headed to Queen Mary College of London’s Centre for Commercial Law Studies, where our lecture for the day was on Tax System Design and Policy in Emerging and Developing Economies. The lecture was led in part by Lydia Sofrona who, as the director of Legal Services at the Independent Authority for Public Revenue in Greece, was a key player in the reform and redesign of the tax system in Greece following its financial struggles resulting from the Global Financial Crisis.
Listening to and learning from a world leading expert in Tax Policy and Administration was a highly rewarding experience. Through an analysis of her experience in the Greek Revenue Authority Lydia was able to teach us a number of interesting and key principles of general tax law and more specifically how those tax laws have even greater importance in developing economies. The most prominent of talking points was that of good tax policy, specifically a high degree of autonomy, a good legal framework, accountability and a clear scope of operation.
It was intriguing to hear and compare the way our Australian tax system is designed and operates globally. The most evident of which was the concept of direct retention of revenue, a concept of tax administration in which the authority receives a percentage of tax revenue as a way to encourage maximum effectiveness and efficiency of tax policy.
We then heard from Queen Mary lecturer Dr Bernard Schneider who discussed the concept of compliance in tax paying. Another fascinating point of discussion and comparison to the Australian tax system, where we discovered we differ quite prominently through our systems requirement to withhold tax and then receive a rebate, rather than having to pay tax after our assessment.
During lunch we had booked tickets to see the Book of Mormon in the West End of London that night after our classes at the Queen Mary. The freedom we were provided with allowed us the opportunity to pick a show that we were interested in.
After the show we grabbed some street food and walked around the West End as there were a lot of street performers and people crowding the streets which was entertaining. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable and excellent second day in London.
Author: Braydon and Matthew