Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tomorrow at McGill Law: Apple's Tax Planning, through a Philosopher's Lens

Tomorrow at McGill: Wayne Norman, Mike & Ruth Mackowski Professor of Ethics at Duke University, will be here to present the inaugural lecture of the McGill University Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium. He will be talking about how we ought to think about the social pressures coming to bear on multinational tax avoidance, with a special focus on Apple. His presentation is entitled "Corporate Tax and Beyond-Compliance Norms."

Using the media's recent coverage of Apple's tax avoidance strategies as a case study, Professor Norman will discuss how we ought to understand and rationalize corporate social responsibility and self-regulation norms emerging around the taxation of multinationals, and whether these rationalizations are, or should be, different than the rationalization of corporate tax regulation. He will draw upon his previous work on business ethics, including "Business Ethics as Self-Regulation: Why principles that ground regulations should be used to ground beyond-compliance norms as well," and he points us to a 2012 NY Times article by Louise Story, As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price.

The topic is obviously timely. If you've been watching the news, you know that it has recently been revealed that Apple and governments get along very, very well when it comes to taxes. In Europe, Apple's side deals with Ireland have come under scrutiny as a possible form of state aid, against EU law; in the United States, Apple has faced lawmakers' bark but no bite. Here is some recent media coverage, most from the Guardian:
I have been saying for some time that even after a century of study, we have yet to articulate a principled way to allocate the global income tax base, and we ought to ask philosophers for help. I am pleased that Professor Norman will engage on the topic.

The presentation will take place in the Seminar Room of the Institute for Health and Social Policy, Charles Meredith House, 1130 Pine Ave., Montreal, beginning at 2:35 pm.

As always, the colloquium is open to all: students, faculty and the general public are welcome.

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