Tribute is an expertise center for international tax dispute resolution.
Tribute aims to promote and support effective approaches for alternative, out-of-court resolution of international tax disputes. These approaches include the use of binding arbitration as well as non-binding supplementary forms of dispute resolution: conciliation, mediation, facilitation, or technical advice.
Tribute has a global coverage, it is neutral and independent, and not for profit. Tribute is supported by leading international tax experts, professionals, academics, and government officials, from all parts of the world.
Tribute offers a platform to all parties, in whatever capacity or of whatever background, that are involved with or take an interest in international tax dispute resolution. Just as much as disputes are a shared concern, effective dispute resolution is a shared concern, and a shared benefit, as well.
The name ‘Tribute’ is an acronym of ‘Tribunal of Tax Experts’. ‘Tribute’ shares a connotation with the Latin word for tax ‘tributum’. Also, it echoes the word ‘contribution’ – the contribution all Tribute participants alike wish to make to global justice.
International tax disputes
Over recent years, international tax disputes have grown to great numbers, as main or part of disputed matter, due mainly to the globalization of economies, and the wide spread of domestic laws and international treaty networks regarding taxation of cross-border activities.
Disputes on taxation of cross-border activities or transactions may be between governments, or between governments and taxpayers, or, occasionally, between private, commercial parties.
They may concern the interpretation or application of domestic law, public concessions such as tax stability clauses, tax treaties, investment or trade treaties, supra-national law including EU law, but also private contracts, for instance tax indemnity clauses.
Also, they may cover direct taxes: income, capital gains, property, or withholding taxes, as well as indirect taxes: value added taxes, services taxes, customs duties, inheritance or gift duties.
And, they may occur at either post or pre tax assessment stages, for instance in the course of cooperative compliance schemes.
Domestic court procedures, if available and viable, as a rule do not provide an internationally coherent solution, the result being that the same case may be considered differently in other countries involved. An international tax court does not exist at present, and perhaps may be never more than just an ideal. To achieve international coherence, out-of-court tax dispute resolution to date is the only available means.
Attention for out-of-court resolution of international tax disputes is rapidly picking up. Options include the Multilateral Convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting (MLI), EU Council Directive (2017/1852) on tax dispute resolution mechanisms, bilateral tax treaties of several major countries, and, occasionally, investor-state (ISDS) arbitration under investment treaties.
However, practical experience is limited still, and mechanisms, if provided for, often fail operational rules or facilities. Tribute, so to speak, is there to ‘plug’ these holes.
Tribute offers a wide range of individually tailored services for all parties involved in processes of dispute resolution: authorities, courts, tribunals, arbitration institutes, or practitioners.
These services include, for example, advice on the right choice of type of dispute resolution for a particular dispute, and its proper use; advice on the design of required legal instruments, like clauses, regulations, agreements, or procedures; assistance with facilitaties necessary for putting processes of dispute resolution in practice, in particular selection of arbitrators, mediators or facilitators, or technical advisers, and case administration; and, finally, practical training in how to effectively participate in resolution processes.
Services fees Tribute applies are generally determined on a modest cost-plus base, covering experts fees and operational expenses.
Tribute regularly hosts events, including presentations, public debates and policy roundtable discussions, supports academic research, and facilitates exchanges and meetings building bridges between the various stakeholders through the Tribute Community.
Tribute holds a register of specialized and diverse experts in international taxation, qualified and available for appointment as arbitrators, mediators or facilitators, technical advisers or expert witnesses – the Tribute list of experts.
Tribute is created as a foundation (stichting) under Netherlands law. As such, Tribute is subject to Netherlands regulatory provisions, including transparency and reporting requirements.
Tribute has an international board, which at present consists of six members: Mr Hans Mooij (Netherlands) executive and chair, Mr Dr. Arnaud Booij (Netherlands), and Mr Willem Calkoen (Netherlands), executives; Mrs Ana Claudia Akie Utumi (Brazil), Mrs Kim Henares (Philippines), Mrs Catalina Hoyos (Colombia), and Mr T.P. Ostwal (India), members.
Tribute is a low-cost organisation. Board membership work is pro bono. Tribute is funded from fees it charges for services rendered, and from donations, by individuals and corporations, to the extent these donations do not impact Tribute’s independency and neutrality.