Since the days of antiquity, trade routes have required knowledge of local customs and environments. In that respect, not much has changed…
VAT Policy and Advice
The world of European VAT is technical and complex. However, it requires more than just knowledge and experience, more than anything it is ‘people work’. It is essential to have relationships within the professional field in order to achieve workable solutions. There are cultural differences to be bridged, both nationally and internationally, and that requires mutual trust and mutual respect.
A few decades ago I entered the field of indirect taxation. In the years since then I have actively expanded the knowledge and the network of relationships that comprise Insense Roads. Businesses and governments hire my services in order to achieve just and practically implementable regulations in the political arena. I can assist you as consultant, mediator or sounding board.
Comprehensive knowledge of European VAT regulations and lobbying
Based on my extensive network of relationships throughout Europe, I consult with both private and public sector organizations on issues concerning European VAT regulations. I know the contexts and I understand the …
Advice on all issues
to do with VAT
Companies hire me to assess contracts and to advise them with regard to ongoing or new projects (such as promotional activities, e-commerce, new products or services). But other issues…
Comprehensive knowledge of European VAT regulations and lobbying
Based on my extensive network of relationships throughout Europe, I consult with both private and public sector organizations on issues concerning European VAT regulations. I know the contexts and I understand the interests. My experience has taught me that mutual understanding and effective communication always contribute to better European regulations, even though this may sometimes take years. And good European VAT regulations almost always lead to good national regulations. This is one of the reasons I’ve always made it a priority to maintain a good working relationship with the Tax Authorities and the Ministry of Finance.
Regulations that don’t work in practice require improvements that are beneficial to all parties. I bring these parties together and make clear what the underlying interests are. Listening and attempting to understand are crucial factors in achieving better VAT regulations and implementation practices. In recent years I have given a variety of presentations to the EU VAT Forum to show EU member states how enterprises, both large and small, deal with issues such as VAT governance. It turns out that, generally speaking, all European countries face the same VAT problems and ultimately want a solution that suits everyone. After all, VAT does not stop at national borders.
Advice on all issues to do with VAT
Companies hire me to assess contracts and to advise them with regard to ongoing or new projects (such as promotional activities, e-commerce, new products or services). But other issues might include consultation regarding auditing, a ‘problematic’ case at the Tax Authorities (including conducting legal proceedings) or advice concerning the entirety of governance. Governance is a broad concept and includes both (the establishment of) the strategic positioning of VAT within a company and advice relating to actual risk management. Is it a good idea to outsource VAT compliance? What issues are involved in setting up a control framework for VAT? What role do the Tax Authorities play in this context and is it useful for both parties to collaborate through cooperative compliance?
Above all, thanks to my many years of experience in the private sector, my background in mediation and my grey hair, I believe I can offer positive and constructive support to my colleagues. That’s why my services are also available to VAT colleagues in need of a sounding board or confidential advice.
3. Training and Seminars
Increasing knowledge for businesses and government
I regularly give presentations at seminars, for major national and international tax consultancy firms, for the Tax Authorities, the Ministry of Finance and the EU VAT Forum. I am also actively involved in the Post-Master in Indirect Taxation course at the European Fiscal Studies institute of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, where since 2005 I have been a member of the corporate specialists’ panel. Of course, I also offer in-house training to businesses.
It is my belief that in the long run, the various interests of the private and public sectors are best served by collaboration. Collaboration that prioritises openness, transparency and mutual trust. I also advocate the harmony model. In my experience this is far more effective than the conflict model, because good relationships between parties are always crucial for achieving the best possible results.
Every business and each country ultimately benefits from good VAT regulation. Considering the European nature of VAT and the transnational nature of the problems, collaboration between governments and the private sector is a ‘conditio sine qua non’ in my view. Not only are there shared interests at stake, there is also mutual dependency; after all, the private sector is the party that collects and passes on VAT – every government’s cash cow – on behalf of the government.
“Mutual trust, awareness of each other’s interests and constructive collaboration are essential to achieve just and implementable European VAT regulation.”
During the twenty years I worked for Royal Ahold, I had to deal with almost every conceivable VAT problem and I developed a thorough knowledge of all types of corporate processes. Ultimately, it’s all about translating complex regulations into concise, pragmatic and workable recommendations for departments within organizations. I graduated from the Post-Master in Indirect Taxation at the European Fiscal Studies institute of the Erasmus University and the Post-Master in Indirect Tax Assurance (VAT Monitoring) at the Tilburg University.
Through my work at Royal Ahold I participated intensively in a variety of external working groups, both in The Hague (The
Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers and Detailhandel Nederland) and Brussels (EuroCommerce). As chair of the EuroCommerce Taxation Group I have also been an active member of the EU VAT Forum and the VAT Expert Group for many years now. I still fill these positions, but now as Insense Roads. I am affiliated with the International VAT Association (IVA).
Before I joined Royal Ahold I worked for ten years as a consultant for a variety of major tax consultancy firms, both on national and international issues, for small and large companies, during which time I dealt with all types of taxation.
FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR DG TAXUD EUROPEAN COMMISSION:
“(…) In his balanced approach, Mr Ron Nikken smoothened the exchanges of views and discussions between members of the Tax Authorities and business representatives. (…) In all cases Mr Ron Nikken showed his thorough knowledge of VAT and business processes. His calm, honest and diplomatic way of communicating his views and opinions made him a natural leader as well as a reliable person to work with.”
PROF. EM. ERASMUS UNIVERSITY ROTTERDAM
SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL FISCAL ASSOCIATION:
“(…) With his expertise, integrity, balanced approach and diplomacy Ron Nikken has made a tremendous contribution to the development of VAT policy in the EU. (…) In these panels (…) he has shown his talent to clearly explain the complex process of EU and national legislation on indirect taxes. (…) His knowledge, experience, reliability and immense international network make Ron Nikken one of the leading persons in national and international VAT with whom it is a pleasure and privilege to cooperate.”
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