At the end of May 2020, we will say goodbye to two of our beloved employees: Mr. Wolfgang Büttner from Germany, who will start his well-deserved retirement, and Mr. Vegard Holmedahl from Norway, who was a coordinator for ISORA in the last 2 years.
Vegard had a part-time position at IOTA. The other part of his time, he worked for the the Norwegian Tax Administration at their headquarters in Oslo, where he was also based. He occasionally visited the Secretariat in Budapest, but most of the time he meet his colleagues in the virtual space. He spent 2 years at our organisation and he will leave us with cheerful memories. We all wish Vegard great success and health in the future.
That is complicated. My first day of IOTA secondment, 4th June 2018, was actually not at IOTA, it was at the Norwegian Tax Administration headquarters in Oslo, Norway. The reason of course was the agreement between IOTA and NTA that I would work from Oslo, not from Budapest, because my work time would be divided between IOTA and NTA. So, I started my secondment with another regular day at the office, albeit with a new set of tasks.
I have always wanted to use my skills and experience to make life better for people – I guess that I share that with many others. Working with tax in Norway made a lot of sense in that regard; a modern society cannot function without taxation. Then I got involved with ISORA – the International survey on revenue administration, a partnership between CIAT, IMF, IOTA and OECD – in 2015, and the opportunities for assisting tax administrations to improve their efficiency and effectiveness were lifted to an international level. When I was informed by a colleague in the International team in NTA that IOTA needed someone to be in charge of ISORA, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work in an international environment while learning from tax experts (after all, I am a rookie, only having worked with tax since 2013), and working with ISORA which I find incredibly meaningful and important.
There are so many to choose from; I will pick two very different memories. The night before the IOTA General Assembly in Bratislava in 2018, I met some of my IOTA-colleagues for dinner. Laughing with them, discussing the plans for the next days, and getting to know these great people better – it was a moment to treasure. In contrast: Coming back home to my family after a week of intense ISORA work in Washington D.C. last December was also incredible. My family means a lot to me and seeing them when returning from a business trip where I know that I have made a positive difference to the future of international taxation: That is a great feeling!
It is hard to choose. I had three groups of tasks in IOTA: The ISORA responsibility, participating in the IOTA Work programme, and representing IOTA at international events. All the tasks allowed me to work with incredibly experienced people and do my little share of improving tax administration work.
It was undoubtedly a challenge not to be able to work full-time in Budapest. Of course, it would have been difficult to continue working part-time for NTA from Budapest – the other way around was much easier, since I interacted more with OECD and IMF on ISORA than I did with my IOTA colleagues. I cannot say that I overcame the challenge, but it became a habit to see my colleagues mostly on video, and it made the work programme events even more special. It was like meeting a group of close friends rather than colleagues.
Vegard represented IOTA at the DET-conference “Tax Compliance: Exploiting the potential of AI, Robotics and Data analytics” in Vienna , October 2019
I will be going back to my position in the Information Management division of the Norwegian Tax Administration.
Yes, I do.