Fairness in International Taxation

June 23, 2022 - June 24, 2022
School of Law, University of Surrey

United Kingdom

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The nature of international tax policy has changed dramatically in recent years. Twentieth century international tax policy sought to prevent double taxation of income, to treat taxpayers doing business abroad fairly and to mitigate inefficiencies in the allocation of investment. Recently, the focus of international tax policymaking has shifted, aiming to prevent double non-taxation of corporate income and to achieve a fair division of the resulting tax revenue. This is illustrated most prominently by the recent agreement on a global minimum corporation tax rate.

As international tax policy raises its ambitions, there is an urgent need for normative theories adequate to the moment. The deep, rich, and venerable literature on fairness in taxation at the level of the nation state is not adequate for evaluating international tax policy. Despite the increasing importance of the topic in the public arena, the division of tax revenue among nations has not been a prominent part of debates over global distributive justice, at least relative to international trade, climate change, international migration and foreign aid.

This workshop will use insights and perspectives from political philosophy and political theory to explore questions of fairness in international tax policy. It will consider both abstract questions of distributive justice and the normative underpinnings and implications of leading policy proposals. These raise questions such as how to divide tax revenue from multinationals between nations, how to strike a fair balance between combating profiting shifting and respecting national autonomy, the ethics of tax competition between states, and the ethical dimensions of tax practice in a global economy. The aim is to bring together high-level theory with analysis of the political and institutional context of policy to develop new accounts of fairness in international taxation.

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May 6, 2022, 9:00am BST

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