Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Allison Christians (McGill; Google Scholar), Tax Justice as Social License: The Fair Tax Mark:
Tax justice advocates have spent the past decade building public consciousness about the tax planning practices of financial elites and large multinational corporations. They approached the project from a series of angles, from grassroots name-and-shame campaigns to documentary filmmaking to political lobbying. An early focus on transparency in the resources sector led to broader campaigns across industries and across countries, with multiple platforms around transparency and accountability. Inspired by the growing consumer response to these campaigns, a group of tax justice advocates created a “fair trade”-style branding and marketing strategy, called the Fair Tax Mark. The primary objective is to directly influence firm and consumer behaviors in the UK, but the standard has broader potential influence as an emergent quasi-legal regime.
This chapter explores the origins, development, impact, and future prospects of the Fair Tax Mark. Part I outlines the background conditions from which the Fair Tax Mark has emerged as a quasi-legal regime. Part II describes the Fair Tax Mark from the perspective of its law-like form and substance and examines it in the context of existing international tax standards. Part III analyzes the proponents of the Fair Tax Mark and their foundational tenets in the context of the other actors, processes, norms, and doctrines that constitute the contemporary international tax law order, and examines how the Fair Tax Mark interacts with rival standard setters, especially the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the EU. The chapter concludes with a call for further study of the processes and mechanisms that drive evolution of the international tax law order.