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One minute with...James Anderson

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You lead the firm’s European tax practice and also co-lead the private capital practice. What’s in your in-tray?
A remarkable amount of M&A involving wealthy individuals, rather than the usual MNCs. 
What sets Skadden apart from other law firms?
We never call ‘time’ or ‘time out’ – till it’s done.
How did you get into tax?
Tax attracted because it was the first sector in the 1990s to seriously digitalise its research matter. That appealed to me – the clinical and speedy way one could get to an answer (most of the time). 
Aside from your immediate colleagues, whom in tax do you most admire? 
Jonathan Elman, former partner at Clifford Chance. The only man who could play solitaire and be utter, utter genius at tax analysis, simultaneously. I’ve never met a finer tax brain.
What’s the number one problem in tax for your clients?
Compliance to a defensible level with increasingly intricate rules.
What caught your eye in the Budget?
The things that caught the eye were those that escaped the ear during Osborne’s speech. Subsequent detail revealed quite impactful changes, notably removal of the non-dom advantages for the UK private equity industry and its use of carry. That is a big change not to have consulted thoroughly on beforehand.
Given the further cuts to the corporation tax rate, would you say the UK is now a tax haven?
No – but I know Brazil would say so now. I am not a big believer in ‘protective’ taxes like corporation tax; the lower they are, the better. And in any event, the UK is definitely not a tax haven given its rates on individuals.
If you could make one change to UK tax law or practice, what would it be? 
UK tax is so interconnected, one change is impossible (save ‘make me chancellor’). I’d increase the rates of VAT to 25 or 27% and  inheritance tax to 60 or 80%, and I’d cut corporation tax and capital gains tax rates to 15% or lower, and individual income tax rates to a maximum of 30%. Watch the economy grow as people are forced to spend and invest, not hoard and count.
What is the most fundamental change in global taxation you expect to see by 2050?
Most people tell me ‘it ain’t gonna happen’, but post-BEPS, post-crisis, and post-eurozone (dissolution will happen), the world will eventually realise that most sentient countries need to move to a globally agreed tax system with formulary apportionment. I’ll be well out of a job before then anyway. And if not, there is always space taxation to inherit the current fiendish complexity of cross-border taxation.
Finally, you might not know this about me but …
Law is my third career (but by far my longest). My first was in music – poverty and bliss in equal measure. It couldn’t last.