John Vella is an Associate Professor at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation (CBT) and a Supernumerary Fellow of Harris Manchester College. He is an expert in:
John studied law at the University of Malta (BA and LLD) and the University of Cambridge (LLM and PhD). Prior to his current post he was Norton Rose Career Development Fellow in Company Law at the Faculty of Law at Oxford. John has been a Proram Affiliate Scholar at New York University and is currently a Deputy Director of the new MSc in Taxation in Oxford and Convenor of the Tax Section of the Uk Society of Legal Scholars. John has given evidence twice before the House of Lords EU Sub-Commmittee A on Financial Transaction Taxes (November 2011 and March 2013) and before the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards on the role of tax in relation to banking standards and culture (January 2013). He has acted as a co-arbitrator in a tax dispute before the ICC International Court of Arbitration.
His recent research has focused on financial sector taxation (on which he has given expert evidence before UK Parliamentary Committees on a number of occasions), the taxation of multinationals, and tax compliance and administration.
** ‘Will taxes tame the banks? Evidence from European bank levies’ with M Devereux and N Johannesen. CBT WP 13/25.
** ‘Co-operative compliance and settlements’ with J Freedman.
** ‘Are we heading towards a corporate tax system fit for the 21st century?’ with M Devereux.
J Vella, J Englisch and A Yevgenyeva, ‘The Financial Transaction Tax Proposal Under the Enhanced Cooperation Procedure: Legal and Practical Considerations’ (2013) 2 British Tax Review 223
J Vella, C Fuest and T Schmidt-Eisenlohr, ‘The EU Commission’s Proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax’ (2011) British Tax Review, 607
J Vella, J Freedman and G Loomer, ‘Corporate Tax Risk and Tax Avoidance: New Approaches’, (2009) British Tax Review, 74
J Vella, ‘Sham Transactions’, Lloyds Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly (2008), 4 (Nov), 488
J Vella, ‘Departing from the legal substance of transactions in the corporate field: the Ramsay Approach beyond the tax sphere’ (2007) 7(2) Journal of Corporate Law Studies, 243
J Vella, ‘Regulatory choice: observations on the recent experience with corrective taxes in the financial sector’ in W. G. Ringe and P. M. Huber (eds), Legal Challenges Arising out of the Global Financial Crisis: The Euro, Bail-outs, and Regulation, (2014) Hart Publishing.
J Vella, ‘Shams, Tax Avoidance and a ‘realistic view of the facts’’, in E Simpson and M Stewart (eds), Sham Transactions, (2013), OUP.
J Vella and J Freedman, ‘HMRC’s Management of the U.K. Tax System: The Boundaries of Legitimate Discretion’ in C Evans, J Freedman and R Krever (eds), The Delicate Balance: Revenue Authority Discretions and the Rule of Law, IBFD, (2011)
J Vella, ‘Sparking regulatory competition in European company law – a response’ in R de la Feria and S Vogenauer, (eds.), Prohibition of Abuse of Law: A New General Principle of EU Law, Hart Publishing, (2011).
J Vella, ‘The Asymmetrical Treatment of Debt and Equity Finance Under UK Tax Law’ in A Reisberg and D Prentice (eds), Corporate Finance Law: UK and EU Perspectives, OUP, (2011).
J Vella, J Freedman and G Loomer, ‘Analyzing the enhanced relationship between corporate taxpayers and revenue authorities: a UK case study’, Internal Revenue Service Bulletin (2009). An abridged and updated version of this chapter was reprinted in Lynne Oats (ed), A fieldwork guide to taxation, Routledge, (2012).
J Vella and D Prentice, ‘Some aspects of capital maintenance law in the UK’ in M Tison et al (eds), Essays in honour of Eddy Wymeersch - Perspectives in Company Law and Financial Regulation, CUP, (2009).
J Vella, J Freedman and G Loomer, ‘Moving Beyond Avoidance? Tax Risk and the Relationship between large Business and HMRC’ in J Freedman (ed), Beyond Boundaries: Developing Approaches to Tax Avoidance and Tax Risk Management, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, (2008).
J Vella and J Freedman, ‘Revenue Guidance: The Limits of Discretion and Legitimate Expectations’ (2012) 128 Law Quarterly Review, 192.
J Vella, ‘Eclipse Film Partners No 35 LLP v HMRC: a different approach to tax avoidance from MCashback?’ (2012) British Tax Review, 252.
J Vella, M Devereux, J Freedman, ‘Tax Avoidance’ [Report commissioned by the UK National Audit Office] (2012).
J Vella, M Devereux, J Freedman, ‘The Tax Gap for Corporation Tax’ [Report commissioned by the UK National Audit Office] (2012).
J Vella, M Devereux, J Freedman, ‘The Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Scheme Regime’ [Report commissioned by the UK National Audit Office] (2012).
Government Office for Science, ‘The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets: An International Perspective - Final Project Report’ (2012) – (co-author and contributor to the evidence base).
J Vella, ‘The Financial Transaction Tax Debate: Some Questionable Claims’ (2012) Volume 47 Intereconomics, 90.
J Vella, ‘A European Financial Transaction Tax?’ Banking Today, The Journal of the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers, (2012), 64.
John gave evidence before the House of Lords EU Sub-Commmittee A on Financial Transaction Taxes in November 2011. He argued against the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) as found in the Commission’s proposal and his evidence was cited at various points in the Committee’s final report on FTTs, which was critical of the EU Commission’s proposal.
John again gave evidence before the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee A on FTTs in March 2013. He again argued that the introduction of the FTT as proposed by the Commission was not a good idea and that the criticism levelled at the proposal put forward by the Commission in 2011 stood. Some of the proposed tax's objectives were not justified and, in any event, there were better instruments to achieve them. He also pointed out that despite being introduced by only 11 member states the tax would have consequences for other member states, like the UK, who were not introducing the tax. Some consequences could be positive but others would certainly be negative. He argued that the Commission should have explored the consequences for these non-participating member states more fully. John’s evidence was cited by the Chairman of the Committee in his strongly worded letters to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union on the proposed tax.
During 2012, John also presented his work on FTT internationally, including at various European conferences and in Australia and Hong Kong. In January 2013, together with Michael Devereux from the CBT, John gave evidence before the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (Panel on Tax, Audit and Accounting). The Commission was appointed by both Houses of Parliament to consider and report on: (i) professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the LIBOR rate-setting process and (ii) lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy. It also made recommendations for legislative and other action. They gave evidence on the role of tax in relation to banking standards and culture. Amongst other things, they answered questions on the incentives provided by the tax system to banks in particular in relation to their capital structure, the role tax incentives played in the financial crisis, and tax avoidance by banks and possible methods to address it. Their evidence was cited in the final report produced by the Commission.
In June 2013, together with Judith Freedman, from the Law Faculty at Oxford, John presented written evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs as part of their Inquiry into Taxing corporations in a global economy: is a new approach needed? Their evidence was cited in the final report of the Inquiry.
In the summer of 2012 he wrote a brief section in the Government Office for Science’s publication ‘The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets: An International Perspective - Final Project Report’ (2012); he is listed as a co-author and contributor to the evidence base.
In the summer of 2012 the National Audit Office (NAO) commissioned the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation (OUCBT) to draw up an academic review of the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes regime (DOTAS) and the tax avoidance landscape. The academic review formed part of the evidence base behind the NAO’s report: “Tax avoidance: tackling marketed avoidance schemes” (November 2012). Together with Michael Devereux and Judith Freedman, John co-authored the three papers which formed the academic review.
John has acted as a co-arbitrator in a tax dispute before the ICC International Court of Arbitration.
John has been a Program Affiliate Scholar at New York University and a visitor at the University of Sydney.
John lectures in Company Law and in Corporate and Business Taxation at the Law Faculty. In 2013/14, he will also give lectures on Business Taxation at the Blavatnik School of Government. For the past four years, he has been a guest lecturer at University College London.
Centre for Business Taxation
Saïd Business School
Park End Street