TAX, SOCIETY & CULTURE

Follow me on Twitter:

Designing Sustainable Tax Regimes: Workshop at McGill

Published Nov 19, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

We are concluding the fall tax policy colloquium at McGill next week with an interdisciplinary workshop to discuss ideas around the idea of sustainability in taxation. Here is the info:

Designing Sustainable Tax Systems

This workshop will bring together scholars and students in law, environmental management and engineering, political science, and economics to discuss what sustainability means and implies for taxation. Participants will discuss the broad idea of sustainability and its connection to consumer and investor behaviour; sustainability at the level of the firm, the society, the state, and the international community; the idea of triple bottom line accounting and the role of tax sustainability in CSR practices and ESG-certified investing; emerging ideas about sustainability in terms of taxpayer buy-in and administrability; and legal and institutional proposals to increase sustainability in taxation.

Agenda

11:00 Welcome
11:30 Richard Janda, Tracing and diminishing our environmental footprint 
12:15 Rita De la Feria, The Impact of Public Perceptions on VAT Rates Policy
13:00 Lunch
14:30 Benoit Timmermans & Wouter Achten, Using life cycle analysis to internalize environmental and social costs of production via VAT
15:15 Julien Tremblay-Gravel, Redistributing Taxing Rights Across Borders Under a DaVAT
16:00 Break
16:15 Allison Christians & Tarcisio Magalhaes, Blueprint for a Sustainable International Tax System
17:00 Closing remarks and reception

If you are in Montreal and would like to attend please contact me; space is limited but we will attempt to accommodate all those who are interested in attending.



Tagged as: McGill scholarship sustainability tax policy workshop

COMMENTS

Share:

Next Monday at McGill: Karie Davis-Nozemack, Applying Sustainability to Tax

Published Nov 15, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

Continuing the McGill tax policy colloquium next week will be Karie Davis-Nozemack, Associate Professor of Law & Ethics at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. Prof. Davis-Nozemack will discuss her forthcoming article with Kathryn Kisska-Schulze, which considers whether and how tax policy can support the quality of life, social justice and cohesion, diversity, democratic rights, broad participation, and social capital and individual capabilities that societies wish to sustain. The paper will be published in the Florida Tax Review and it follows Prof. Davis-Nozemack's earlier work with Robert Bird, Tax Avoidance as a Sustainability Problem, 151(4) J. Bus. Ethics 1009 (Sept. 2018), which examined tax avoidance in the context of corporate sustainability practices.

As always, 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.

The talk and discussion will take place from 3-5 pm in New Chancellor Day Hall room 316; all are welcome to attend. The complete colloquium schedule is below and here.


Tagged as: colloquium McGill sustinability tax policy

COMMENTS

Share:

Tomorrow at McGill: Karen Brown on Tax Policy for Sustainable Growth

Published Nov 10, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

Continuing the tax policy colloquium tomorrow will be Karen Brown, Theodore Rinehart Professor of Business Law at the George Washington University Law School, whose working paper is entitled Tax Policy: A Tool to Support Sustainable Growth. The paper examines the World Bank's "Human-Centered Business Model" which was developed by Marco Nicoli in a 2017 paper entitled
"The Human-Centered Business Model (HCBM): A Holistic Approach to a New Model for Doing Business." As Prof. Brown describes it, this project:

details a “common set of corporate goals covering economic, social, and environmental sustainability”  to create a coherent “business ecosystem.” Of a six-pronged approach , the fourth, known as the Fiscal Pillar, is designed to offer governments a menu of options allowing them to implement tax regimes that support efficiency and growth in their economies while providing incentives for enterprises to operate with attention to core principles as well as the considerable costs of doing business in a manner that disserves sustainable goals.
The paper examines the relevant goals and analyzes the prospects for achieving them using tax incentives (which the paper adjudges non-optimal) and varying tax burdens for sustainable and non sustainable business models (which the paper broadly endorses).

The paper notes that Marco Nicoli retired from the World Bank in 2018 but guides the HCBM project in his role as Advisor to the OECD’s Centre for Development in Paris. Surprising, then, that nowhere in the OECD's work on BEPS or its urgent progress on tax challenges arising from the digital economy is there any mention of coordination of these efforts with the sustainable development goals whether through the HCBM project or through the broader financing for development work on mobilizing domestic revenues. A missed opportunity since, as Prof. Brown notes:
Corporate taxes may be inappropriately low when measured by the value of operating in a vibrant and stable global economy sustained by adequate government expenditures.  Treating taxes as costs to shift onto others enables these companies to ignore the important role of taxation in the modern world. Yet a corporate goal of minimizing costs and maximizing profit above all else may operate to impair the effectiveness of governments in supplying the infrastructure and other goods and services necessary to support the basic needs of their residents. 
As editor and contributing author to "Taxation and Development - A Comparative Study", Prof. Brown is uniquely situated to talk about the incorporation (or lack thereof) of sustainability into taxation rubrics, and vice versa. It promises to be a good discussion.

As always, 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.

The talk and discussion will take place from 3-5 pm in New Chancellor Day Hall room 316; all are welcome to attend. The complete colloquium schedule is below and here.


Tagged as: colloquium McGill sustainability tax policy

COMMENTS

Share:

Tomorrow at McGill: Magalhaes on a New Global Tax Deal for the Digital Age

Published Nov 03, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

Tomorrow the McGill tax policy colloquium continues with a presentation by Tarcisio Magalhaes, who will discuss our co-authored paper, forthcoming in the Canadian Tax Journal. Here is the abstract:

The OECD is currently in the midst of a project intended to tackle the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy. As laid out in Pillar 1 of its program of work released in May 2019, the goal seemed broadly to develop consensus on a new taxing right, to allow countries to tax multinationals even in the absence of traditional physical presence. Upon inspection, the plan seems to be about rebalancing taxing rights mostly among the relatively affluent OECD member states plus a few other key non-OECD states. Viewed from this perspective, the urgent effort to forge a new global tax deal for the digital age is destined to forestall a much-needed discussion on the broader distributive implications of the current global tax deal. This Article therefore critically examines the emerging tax bargain. Part I begins with a brief survey of some of the main factors that prompted the OECD to turn its attention to this topic. Part II considers the origins and development of nexus in the international tax regime, showing why this concept is amenable to broad expansion. Part III examines the range of reforms currently under consideration, arguing that the framing on digitalization misses a necessary connection to other pressing international policy programs that are also under development, most notably a global commitment to building institutions that support sustainable economic development. The Article concludes with a prediction that on its current trajectory, the program of work on digitalization is likely to produce a new global tax deal that looks much like the old global tax deal, with a relatively modest redistribution of taxing rights among a few key states, thus missing an opportunity for meaningful reform. 
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. The talk will take place in New Chancellor Day Hall room 316; all are welcome to attend. This fall the Colloquium theme is Designing Sustainable Tax Systems. The complete colloquium schedule is below and here.



[revised 4 Nov to include link to newly posted draft paper]

Tagged as: colloquium McGill tax policy

COMMENTS

Share:

Today at McGill: Rebecca Kysar will Unravel Tax Treaties

Published Oct 28, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

The next instalment in this fall's tax policy colloquium at McGill will feature Rebecca Kysar, who will speak about her forthcoming paper, Unraveling the Tax Treaty, today at 3pm. Here is the abstract:

Coordination among nations over the taxation of international transactions rests on a network of some 2,000 bilateral double tax treaties. The double tax treaty is, in many ways, the roots of the international system of taxation. That system, however, is in upheaval in the face of globalization, technological advances, taxpayer abuse, and shifting political tides. In the academic literature, however, scrutiny of tax treaties is largely confined to the albeit important question of whether tax treaties are beneficial for developing countries. Surprisingly little consideration has been paid to whether developed countries, like the United States, should continue to sign tax treaties with one another, and no formal revenue or economic analyses of the treaties has been undertaken by the United States government. In fact, little evidence or theory exists to support entrance into tax treaties by the United States, and examination of investment flows indicates the treaties may even lose U.S. revenues. Problematically, the treaties also thwart reforms of the antiquated and broken international tax system. The trajectory of the recent U.S. tax legislation illustrates this phenomenon. 
Although tax treaties may have, at one time, served salutary purposes, modern circumstances call into question the relinquishment of taxing jurisdiction by source countries. I suggest that nations unravel the jurisdictional provisions from the treaties, abandoning or scaling them down, possibly through the new multilateral instrument. Rather than assessing antiquated notions of worldwide efficiency, the challenge for the international tax system going forward will be to attempt some degree of coordination while also imparting flexibility to advance national interests in setting revenue policy. This solution aims to thread that needle.  
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. The talk will take place in New Chancellor Day Hall room 316; all are welcome to attend.

This fall the Colloquium theme is Designing Sustainable Tax Systems. The complete colloquium schedule is below and here.


Tagged as: colloquium McGill tax policy

COMMENTS

Share:

Monday at McGill: Eric Zolt presents "Tax Treaties and Developing Countries"

Published Oct 02, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

On Monday at McGill, Eric Zolt continues the fall tax policy colloquium with a presentation of his working paper entitled Tax Treaties and Developing Countries. Here is the intro:

Academics and others over the last 50 years have called for developing countries to hesitate or refrain from entering into bilateral tax treaties with developed countries. Tax treaties seek to facilitate cross-border transactions and investments by reducing tax barriers and providing greater certainty to foreign investors. But treaty provisions invariably result in countries yielding taxing rights. Since at least the 1920s, treaties have arguably provided greater taxing rights to the country where the investors reside (generally, capital-exporting developed countries) rather than the country where the economic activity takes place (often, capital-importing developing countries). Where capital flows are roughly equal between countries, rules that skew taxing rights towards residence-based taxation away from source-based taxation result in little or no revenue shifting. But where capital flows are less even, the tax revenue consequences may be substantial. 
Critics of tax treaties between developed and developing countries contend that developing countries give up tax revenue and receive little in return. But this common position rests on a questionable narrative. It assumes that tax treaties result in a transfer of revenue from developing to developed countries. For several reasons, tax revenue yielded by developing countries likely results in relatively little revenue gains by developed countries. In the current economic environment, tax treaties are less about distributive rules between countries and more about developed countries assisting their multinational entities in reducing their foreign tax liability and developing countries using tax treaties to attract foreign investment. 
Framed this way, tax treaties share much in common with traditional tax incentives (such as tax holidays and favorable depreciation provisions). Viewing tax treaties as tax incentives changes the focus from whether the treaty provisions are fair to developing countries to whether this type of incentive generates economic benefits that justify the revenue costs. 
For some, perhaps many, developing countries, tax treaties with developed countries make little economic sense. But for many other developing countries, this decision is more complex. It requires making country-specific and treaty-specific determinations of the revenue costs and economic benefits from entering into tax treaties with developed countries.
Viewing tax treaties as primarily incentive delivery mechanisms provides a reason for substantial scrutiny of their costs and benefits--a rarity given the often oblique if not thoroughly opaque nature of treaty adoption and ratification procedures across countries. The paper makes the case that evaluating the effectiveness of tax treaties involving developing countries is complex and specific to the particular countries and treaty terms, and that the main issue to be queried should not be the fair distribution of revenues between differently situated countries but rather the economic costs and benefits of reducing taxation as an incentive for inbound investment.

Zolt argues that "the stylized world where tax revenue yielded by source countries is picked up by residence countries is more fiction than fact," at least, in a world in which most primarily capital-exporting (rich) countries have primarily territorial rather than worldwide tax systems as is the case today. The examination of alternative approaches to cost benefit analysis in the latter part of the paper provides a useful reminder that isolating the economic impacts of any given tax policy position is difficult, no less so when the policy in question is packaged in the form of  tax treaty instead of a statute. Zolt nevertheless concludes that
Countries (both developed and developing) need to do the hard work of estimating the economic consequences of entering into tax treaties. This country-specific and treaty-specific cost-benefit exercise will be challenging and frustrating, given the many different assumptions that will influence the calculations. But these challenges are similar to those for estimating the costs and benefits of tax incentives and other types of tax expenditures. The exercise will also inform a country’s negotiating positions by highlighting those provisions (such as zero or low withholding taxes) that contribute to potential revenue losses. 
This paper is a timely contribution to the ongoing debate about how, and by which countries, cross-border income ought to be taxed, and I very much look forward to discussing it on Monday.

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.



Tagged as: colloquium development McGill scholarship tax policy treaties

COMMENTS

Share:

Monday at McGill: DeLaFeria presents Tax Fraud and Selective Enforcement

Published Sep 29, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

Tomorrow at McGill, Rita DeLaFeria will kick off the fall tax policy colloquium with a presentation of her work in progress entitled Tax Fraud and Selective Law Enforcement. Here is the abstract:

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.





Tagged as: colloquium McGill scholarship tax policy

COMMENTS

Share:

Fall 2019 Tax Policy Colloquium at McGill Law: Designing Sustainable Tax Systems

Published Sep 11, 2019 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

My fall tax policy course will incorporate a colloquium on current issues of national and international tax policy. The theme of this year’s colloquium is Designing Sustainable Tax Systems
The distinguished speakers who will contribute to this year’s colloquium include:

  • Sep 30:  Rita De La FeriaProfessor and Chair in Tax Law, University of Leeds.
  • Oct 7: Eric Zolt, Michael H. Schill Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA
  • Oct 28:  Rebecca Kysar, Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
  • Nov 4:  Tarcisio Magalhaes, Post-doctoral researcher, McGill Faculty of Law
  • Nov 11:  Karen Brown, Theodore Rinehart Professor of Business Law, George Washington School of Law
  • Nov. 18:  Karie Davis-Nozemack, Associate Professor, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business.
All talks will take place from 15h-17h at the McGill Faculty of Law, 3644 Rue Peel, Room 316. All are welcome to attend.




The colloquium is made possible by a grant from Spiegel Sohmer. 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. 

[post updated to correct schedule]

Tagged as: colloquium McGill Tax law tax policy

COMMENTS

Share:

Monday at McGill: Mason on the Illegality of EU Digital Services Taxes

Published Dec 01, 2018 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

Ruth Mason, Class of 1957 Research Professor of Law, University of Virginia, will visit McGill next Monday to give a talk on her forthcoming work with Leopolda Parada on the compatibility of digital services taxes with EU law. In brief Mason and Parada posit that the focus of proposed EU digital services taxes on very large multinationals is intended to target US-based giants (Google, Amazon, etc) but in fact implicate EU treaty-based anti-discrimination provisions applicable to their EU-based subsidiaries. Here is the abstract:
This Article uses the example of company-size classifications to explore the role of disproportionate impact and legislative intent in judicial review of Member State laws for nationality discrimination. Our discussion of disproportionate impact is mostly descriptive—we explore how the Court has resolved questions of quantum and proof in the cases. Our discussion of intent is mostly normative—we argue, contrary to current doctrine, that courts should consider the legislature’s intentions as probative, but not dispositive, of discrimination. 
We chose company size for two reasons. First, discussion of company size as covert nationality discrimination is new to the literature. Second, Member States increasingly use company-size classifications in tax laws; Poland and Hungary recently used turnover (as opposed to net income) to determine tax rates; and Spain proposes to use turnover to establish liability for its new digital services tax. 
To illustrate how the Court of Justice might apply our approach to size discrimination, we consider whether the company-size thresholds in Spain’s and the EU’s recent proposals for a digital services tax constitute covert nationality discrimination. More generally, cooperative negotiations at the OECD towards reform that would appropriately tax the modern, digital economy must account for limitations imposed by EU law, and in particular its prohibition on nationality discrimination.
The tax policy colloquium at McGill is supported by a grant made by the law firm Spiegel Sohmer, Inc., 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 explores a range of contemporary tax topics across three disciplines--law, economics, and philosophy. The complete colloquium schedule is below and more information is available here. The Colloquium is convened by Allison Christians, H. Heward Stikeman Chair in Taxation Law.

As always, the colloquium is free and open to all. Prof Mason will speak on Monday December 3 at 4-5:30pm, New Chancellor Day Hall, Room 102.




Tagged as: colloquium EU international law McGill tax policy TFEU

COMMENTS

Share:

Today at McGill Law: Singer on Remission Orders

Published Oct 22, 2018 - Follow author Allison: - Permalink

Today at McGill Law, Prof. Sam Singer of Thompson Rivers University will present his work in progress, entitled "Evaluating Canadian Tax Remission Orders: A Debt Relief Vehicle for Taxpayers," as part of the annual Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium at McGill Law.

Here is the abstract:

Remission orders, although rare, serve important functions in the Canadian tax system. This paper draws from a comprehensive study of federal tax remission orders issued between 1998 and 2017. It presents general findings about remission orders in that time period, including the number of remission orders issued, their reported costs, and the number of remission order applications. The paper identifies the five most common categories of reasons cited for granting remission orders. It then applies tax policy analysis to assess the two most frequent reasons for granting remission orders: to provide debt relief for financial hardship and/or extenuating circumstances, and to provide remedies for government errors and delays. This study also highlights concerns about the federal tax remission system, and provides recommendations for improving its fairness, transparency, and accountability.
For those not familiar with the practice of remission in tax, this is a regime under which the taxpayer can ask the tax authority to forgive their tax debts, manly due to hardship or extenuating circumstances. This was a new concept to me when I came to McGill in 2012 and learned about a rather generous remission order granted to Blackberry in what I assumed to be a last-ditch effort in the nature of industrial policy and national protectionism--but Prof. Singer's paper makes clear that the remission order is not only (or even primarily) for massive multinational companies. I am bothered by the idea that the tax authority has a more or less obscure power to forgive the tax debts of some taxpayers under unclear circumstances and using criteria that are not transparent or reviewable. This seems to me to be a tool which could create great distrust in the tax system, in terms of both procedural fairness for taxpayers who don't know about or get remission orders but also in terms of the opacity behind which some officials appear to have a tool to help selected individuals at their will. I look forward to the discussion of Prof. Singer's paper and the implications of this research for the big questions of tax governance.

The tax policy colloquium at McGill is supported by a grant made by the law firm Spiegel Sohmer, Inc., 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 will explore a range of contemporary tax topics across three disciplines--law, economics, and philosophy. The complete colloquium schedule is below and more information is available here. As always, the colloquium is free and open to all.

The Colloquium is convened by Allison Christians, H. Heward Stikeman Chair in Taxation Law.


Tagged as: colloquium McGill tax policy

COMMENTS

Share: