Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Steven Dean (Brooklyn Law School) & Attiya Waris (University of Nairobi), Ten Truths About Tax Havens: Inclusion and the ‘Liberia’ Problem, 70 Emory L.J. ___ (2021):
There has been a decades-long effort to repair an increasingly fragile international tax system. One reason it has foundered has been what we identify as the ‘Liberia problem.’ In 2000, the powerful Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development identified Liberia—but not Switzerland—as a tax haven and targeted it for sanctions. It did not go well. During the two decades since, everything has changed; yet seemingly from this lens of inclusion, nothing has changed at all. Awkwardly similar “blacklists” still target ‘Black’ and ‘Brown’ jurisdictions despite the fact that experts mean something quite different when they speak of the “scourge of tax havens” and secrecy jurisdictions. We think differently in important respects but believe that those real disagreements demonstrate the need for a less-insular global tax policymaking apparatus. And we share a conviction that a more inclusive and more level playing field in the international tax arena would benefit all states.
To show why, we offer a series of possible “truths” designed to prompt a long-overdue conversation about perceptions of bias and privilege in international taxation.