2017 in Review

While 2017 was quiet on the blog-front, it was very active for our weekly tax discussion group. In 2017 we held 31 meetings around the University of Cambridge during term-time. We also hosted a large number of visiting speakers ranging from King’s College London to the University of Zagreb, Croatia and the University of Bergen, Norway! Participants ranged from visiting professors, undergraduates, graduates and practitioners in law, economics, sociology and political science. Here are a few photos and highlights of the year:

In February 2017 we hosted a graduate formal dinner in Jesus College where we had an opportunity to socialize informally. Above are photos of some of our group at pre-drinks, dinner and in the Jesus College Middle Combination Room (MCR) or graduate lounge.

In July we had two major events. The first was our second annual garden party where we invited members of the University and larger tax community to join us in our weekly tax discussion followed by an outdoor garden party. There was plenty of talk, treats and of course a garden party staple, Pimms.

We also had the pleasure of hosting 20 tax students from Curtin Law School in Perth Western Australia led by Professor Annette Morgan on July 11th, 2017. As part of their 3rd International Tax Study Tour, taking in Singapore, London, Paris, New York and Washington DC, the undergraduate and graduate students majoring in taxation spent the day with us at the University of Cambridge learning about the UK and EU taxation systems, and current topical areas of taxation. They also had some time to hear about what some members of our tax group, PhD students in Cambridge, were researching in the area of taxation.

We began the morning with welcome introductions from the Jesus College Intellectual Forum who graciously provided the venue and facilities to host the students. We then followed with some background of some members of our tax group and the work we were individually doing. After that, we split into small groups so that students could experience what our weekly tax discussions were like. That week we involved them in reviewing Hans Gribnau’s (Eds.) new book “Building Trust in Taxation.” Each student had the opportunity to skim through a chapter, make comments on areas of interest, and linked it to current events or contemporary tax issues. We then spent the remainder of the day having a larger group discussion of the issues brought up in the book.

Between discussions, our members also travelled around the world presenting their work at conferences and even doing extended studies in other universities. PhD law student Matteo Mantovani spent a semester at Harvard Law School conducting advanced research on VAT. And PhD sociology student May Hen conducted fieldwork in the Cayman Islands. She also presented some of her research at the Department of Justice, Tax Division.

Photo of the venue (Jesus College, Cambridge) where our workshop on “Is tax avoidance more relevant than tax evasion?” took place for the 35th Cambridge Economic Crime Symposium. The week-long event drew 1,500 participants from over 120 countries. Our talk proceeded this panel.

Finally, our members Peter Allen and May Hen led a workshop panel at the 35th Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime in September 2017 where panelists including HMRC debated the topic “Is tax avoidance more relevant now than tax evasion?”

2017-07-04 17.12.45Last but not least, founding Tax Discussion Group member Chris Jenkins successfully defended his PhD dissertation and has moved back (temporarily we hope) to New Zealand. Congratulations Chris and we look forward to seeing where the winds take you!

Our weekly meetings will begin again next week. As always, we will keep our “Meetings” page up-to-date as well as our events section. We look forward to 2018 and welcoming you to our weekly discussion groups. As always, they are open to anyone!