The 2nd Academic Taxation Conference

There are very few young people in Kazakhstan who have the opportunity to study taxation to such a level that they can enter the job market and seek employment as tax professionals. "Most of the tax professionals in Kazakhstan do not have proper theoretical background, and those who do obtained it during their studies abroad," says KIMEP Associate Professor Tomas Balco.

Dilyara Akhtyamova, Bcs student at the Bang College of Business, is carrying out research on the education of tax professionals in Kazakhstan. She has queried a number of leading tax professional on whether they obtained an adequate education in the field of taxation in Kazakhstan, and she found that 100% of the respondents do not find the education in this field satisfactory or sufficient.

Ward Jones, tax partner of KPMG, Golden Sponsor of this year's conference, appreciates the motivation and enthusiasm of the tax specialists that his firm hires, but he believes they need more training in taxation before starting their careers with KPMG. If they could specialize in taxation at university and study taxes in more depth, that would benefit and accelerate their careers.

When Dilyara Akhtyamova queried Michael Sturdivant, tax partner of Deloitte, Bronze Sponsor of the conference, what might be reasons for the fact that tax education in Kazakhstan is not adequate, he suggested that that the tax specialization is not typically considered a core program in business schools, and that universities are looking to build their core programs first. As the educational programs continue to grow and improve, other more "specialized" areas of study typically are added to the curriculum with the addition of qualified professors, etc. He believes this is a natural progression in this aspect. Courtney Fowler, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, also a Bronze Sponsor of this year's conference, says that she is not entirely satisfied with the preparation of students interested in tax. "For one, the emphasis in Kazakhstan seems to be on "auditing" as a career choice, with "tax" perceived as a last resort and a dead-end job. Nothing could be further from the truth! Tax is one of the most dynamic, fluid, challenging, and geographically diverse areas available to public accountants. Add to that, the various disciplines within tax by industry and types of taxation, and I truly believe that no one could find a more exciting field in which to specialize." She further continues by saying: "Students must be exposed to international tax concepts like controlled foreign corporations, other corporate entities (e.g., transparent entities, various corporate entities, estates and trusts), international conventions, tax planning, asset management, transfer pricing, and most importantly, research techniques."

Prof. Balco is organizing the 2nd Academic Taxation Conference in KIMEP on March 25-27, 2010, as a separate track of the KIMEP International Research Conference, thus providing an opportunity for academic research and discussions between tax professionals and students of taxation. This year's conference, similarly to previous years, features a number of research papers from both KIMEP students and foreign academics and features numerous well-known Kazakhstani tax professionals.

This year's conference is a joint effort between the Bang College of Business and College of Continuing Education - a logical partnership between these two colleges offering world class educational programs to both young people and experienced professionals. Apart from KPMG and Deloitte, other sponsors of the conference include PricewaterhouseCoopers, HSBC Bank Kazakhstan and Lancaster Group.

The broad sponsorship support received indicates that there is great interest in the business community for advancing the discussion on taxation and also research in this topic.

Simen Munter, the CEO of HSBC Bank Kazakhstan who also chose to support the conference says: "HSBC believes in the value to society of a transparent, stable and effective tax collection system. We welcome KIMEP's initiative in developing practical awareness on the implications of changes and planned changes to the tax regulations and the opportunity to clear misunderstandings in this very important area."

Kassym Abzhanov, the President of Lancaster Group, who also decided to support the conference says, "Lancaster Group supports such initiatives as they bring academics and business together. Business ultimately depends on stability and fairness of the rules. Having more tax professionals in Kazakhstan will benefit business, state authorities and society as a whole"

The conference starts on the afternoon of Thursday, March 25 and continues the whole day of Friday 26 on the campus of the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research, located at Abay and Dostyk Streets in Almaty. During the conference, more than 30 research papers will presented on the following topics:

  • Tax Profession in Central Asian Countries
  • The Types of Earmarked Taxes and their Distribution in Kazakhstan
  • Fairness of Taxation System in Kazakhstan
  • Taxation as a tool to attract Foreign Direct Investment to Kazakhstan
  • Choice of Legal Form in New Territory
  • Indirect Tax Issues Related to Cross-border Transactions
  • Stability of Subsurface User Contracts in Kazakhstan
  • Tax Crime in Kazakhstan
  • Offshore Tax Jurisdiction
  • Transfer Pricing: Main Issues Faced by Investors
  • Taxation System in Baikonur
  • International Taxation Matters in the Oil and Gas Industry of Azerbaijan
The final panel of the conference will be named "Tax Leaders" Panels and will feature the leading tax professionals in Kazakhstan, who will jointly reflect on their opinions of the current status of tax education in Kazakhstan and also make recommendations as to how current educational programs need to be tailored to meet the expectations and needs of the job market.