Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Allison Christians (McGill; Google Scholar) presents Tax Cooperation in an Unjust World virtually today at UC-Irvine as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium:
In this book [Tax Cooperation in an Unjust World (Oxford University Press Nov. 2021)], Professor Christians sets out to demonstrate the key role that the international tax system plays in achieving justice. To do so, we first establish that the international tax system currently allows states with great wealth to claim more than they are justifiably entitled to from the global economy. We then demonstrate that this status quo both facilitates and feeds off continued human suffering, and therefore violates even minimal conceptions of international distributive justice. Finally, we explain how this situation of ongoing injustice can be addressed through existing institutions and processes and show that a fairer international tax system could be achieved with incremental yet effective adaptation, that is, without requiring radical reform or a new world tax order.
In making these claims, the book connects theories about tax policy largely from the legal and economics literature to theories of international justice from philosophical literature. As with any interdisciplinary effort, doing so risks alienating both camps. We hope we have muted this risk by showing that foundational commitments of widely accepted conceptions of international justice are reflected in existing tax policy, even if norms and processes do not fully reflect those underlying principles.
Two main observations motivate the book: first, that there are extreme conditions of injustice in the world today; and, second, that the international tax system currently contributes to this injustice but is capable of altering course.