This article presents a new conceptual framework for research into tax fraud. Informed by research approaches from across tax law, public economics, criminology, criminal justice, economics of crime, and regulatory theory, it assesses the effectiveness, and the legitimacy, of current approaches to combating tax fraud, bringing new dimensions to previously identified trends in crime control. It argues that, whilst the last decade has witnessed significant intensification of measures that purportedly target tax fraud both within Europe and elsewhere, these measures display a fundamental misunderstanding of the phenomenon of tax fraud.
Using VAT as a case study, it is argued that these measures concentrate upon combating the revenue costs of fraud rather than the fraud itself. Whilst measures deployed to combat revenue costs and those deployed to combat the tax fraud often coincide, this is not always the case. In cases where they do not coincide, prevalence is consistently given to enforcement measures that address revenue costs, rather than combatting the fraud itself, even where the effect is to aggravate other costs of tax fraud. It is argued that a concentration solely upon the revenue costs of fraud can no longer be regarded as either deterrent or punishment, but merely as a compensatory mechanism for the lost revenue.
These developments in anti-tax fraud policy demonstrate a significant shift –one that appears to be motivated by a mixture of endogenous and exogenous factors– from tax fraud suppression to tax fraud management. The article concludes that this shift not only undermines tax equity and overall tax compliance, but may also lead to selective tax enforcement, thus representing a significant risk to the rule of law.The colloquium is supported by a grant made by the law firm Spiegel Sohmer, for the purpose of fostering an academic community in which learning and scholarship may flourish. The land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk), a place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst nations.
This fall the Colloquium theme is Designing Sustainable Tax Systems. The complete colloquium schedule is below and here.