Thursday, September 22, 2016
The two-day symposium on Human Rights and Tax in an Unequal World kicks off today at NYU:
Session #1: Are Human Rights Really Relevant to Tax?
This panel will ask a range of leading tax scholars and practitioners what relevance human rights law has or could have to the field of tax law. Do human rights matter to tax policy and practice? Are human rights laws and institutions relevant to understanding and regulating the global tax system? How do the core principles of the human rights regime—non-discrimination, equality, and dignity— inform thinking on the power to tax, the design of tax policies, and the implementation and enforcement of tax laws? Can human rights law help trace the line between permissible tax competition and impermissible interference with other States’ tax sovereignty? Panelists will discuss how tax experts are, or whether they should be, grappling with concepts of human rights and corresponding duties as they chart reforms of domestic and global tax policies, and what they need from the human rights community to do so.
Session #2: The Human Rights Dimensions of Tax and Tax Abuse
This panel will ask a range of human rights experts, tax and non-tax scholars what relevance tax policy and practice have for human rights. Which forms of tax law-making and tax law-breaking have the greatest effects on human rights, where are those consequences most acute, and who bears responsibility? From its impacts on revenue-raising and redistribution, to its role in repricing conduct and reinforcing representative democracy, taxation affects the realization of human rights around the world. When individuals and corporate entities avoid paying their fair share of taxes, the public suffers in multiple ways—and some populations disproportionately so. Nowhere does tax dodging take a larger toll than in developing countries, which depend more heavily than industrialized countries on corporate income tax as a source of public revenue and have far less cushion in their budgets to start. Panelists will address such questions as: How do the tax avoidance strategies of transnational corporations and wealthy individuals impair human rights? What responsibility does a State bear for the extraterritorial effects of its tax policies, including those that facilitate tax avoidance in other States, and for regulating the overseas conduct of its nationals? How can the design of tax policies and the regulation of tax practices positively affect the realization of rights?
- Kathleen Lahey (Queen’s), From ‘Tax Cuts for Growth’ to ‘Taxing for Equality’ – Fiscal Policies, Human Rights, Gender Equality, Poverty, and Income Inequalities
- Kayum Ahmed (Columbia), Government Accountability, Taxation and the Paris Principles: The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in the Global South
- Sandra Fredman (Oxford), Taxation as a Human Rights Issue: Gender and Substantive Equality
- Alex Cobham (Tax Justice Network), Procuring Profit-Shifting: The State Role in Tax Avoidance
- Olivier DeSchutter (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), Taxation as a Tool For the Realization of Economic, Social and Cultural RirRghts: Conceptual and Practical Challenges