Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tax, Law and Development

Yariv Brauner and Miranda Stewart have posted their introductory chapter to Tax, Law and Development, a book to which I am contributing with a chapter on global tax activism.  Here is the abstract:
This book is the first collection of independent legal scholarship exploring the relationship between tax, law and the quest for human development. While acknowledging fully the challenge of tax competition in a global economy, this book rejects calls to end taxation of mobile capital even if this may be perceived to be a theoretical economic inevitability due to the difficulty of collection in an uncooperative environment. New approaches to economic development suggest we must abandon – or significantly downplay – the dominant normative approaches to tax policy, replacing these with contextualized, diverse, partial and incremental tax law reform approaches that take seriously the legal, social and political context. The innovative scholars who contribute to this book examine the role of law in national and international tax regimes across a range of topical tax issues, from the perspective of countries including China, Brazil, South Africa, India and the United States. Chapters discuss the reform of tax laws that are central to economic globalization, including tax incentives for foreign direct investment, their relationship with tax treaties and other international tax law, the problem of how to address fundamental equity concerns, and institutions of budgeting, tax law making and administration in a global era.
They conclude:
The variety of chapters presented in this book forcefully demonstrate the deep need and the wealth of opportunities for progress in this avenue of study of tax, law and development. The primarily economic and ‘one size fits all’ focus of tax policy to date has not been sufficiently matched by detailed legal, historical and contextual policy analysis that can fortify and enrich it, supporting the implementation of tax reforms within real world social and legal structures. A range of alternative approaches to development arise out of the critique presented by the authors in this book and surveyed in this Introduction. The chapters call for a direct acknowledgement of the challenges and contradictions of tax law reform for development, and emphasize patience, diversity, a trial-and-error approach, transparency, legitimacy or ‘ownership’ and constant feedback and evaluation in tax reform approaches. Although less apparently streamlined and ‘correct’, these alternative approaches to tax, law and development do not imply a loss of focus, even if they are slow, difficult to implement, and lack the appeal of promised panacea. Moreover, they often require careful coordination within and between countries that does not exist in the current international tax regime. This new approach does, however, promise some actual success. The goal of this book is unashamedly idealistic, to serve as the foundation that would jump-start further scholarship, and support real change in the global and national tax laws for economic development.
I'm looking forward to seeing the book in print.

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