The ranking process for World Tax changed slightly for 2017. Our researchers, based on three continents and covering more than 50 jurisdictions, talked to more taxpayers than ever before about which firms they hire, and why.
The corporate interviewees were chosen from the list of clients supplied by our universal contacts and clients, as well as the clients provided by firms in questionnaires (with their permission).
No recommendation from any adviser for their own firm, or their colleagues in that firm, was taken into account. Firms cannot pay to be included in the tiers or to have individuals mentioned but are offered – independently and after the tiers are finalised – the opportunity to list their professional details for a fee.
The interviews researchers carry out with corporates were the most important factor in rankings, with feedback from advisers on other firms and, finally, the questionnaires themselves also taken into account.
The questionnaires were hosted online for the first time, but firms were also able to fill in a traditional emailed form if they preferred. Some of the sections on the questionnaire were shortened, and there was an additional focus on industry specialisation as a result of feedback from readers on what they want to learn about firms listed in the directory.
Tier 1 firms are the 'go-to' firms in their jurisdiction and are praised by taxpayers and peers alike as market leaders in all key areas of tax: planning, transactions, transfer pricing, indirect taxes and litigation. They have specialists working with clients in all industries, and this is reflected by the size, spread and quality of transactions detailed in the questionnaires.
Tier 2 firms have a strong reputation in their own jurisdiction and are praised by taxpayers and peers for their work in all key areas of tax. They have strong practitioners able to give solid advice to clients across all or most industries, as evidenced by the information provided in questionnaires and feedback from clients.
Tier 3 firms have a good reputation in their own jurisdiction, and are well thought-of by taxpayers and other firms. They have specialists in most areas of tax, and have partners able to offer advice across several industries.
Tier 4 firms often operate in a niche area, having a strong reputation in one particular aspect of tax, such as transactional work or litigation, or offer a full range of services to clients in specific industries.
All jurisdictions are different, and thus the criteria for tiers are flexible. For example, in some countries having a criminal law department is vital for a full-service tax firm, while in others cross-border structuring and transfer pricing may be a far more important consideration. Firms are tiered according to their position in the market in their own jurisdiction.
We hope that you find World Tax 2017 informative and are able to put our research to good use in your decision-making at work.
World Tax editor, International Tax Review deputy editor