Monday, April 07, 2008

Tax Justice Focus – THE DOHA EDITION

Tax Justice Focus, 1st Quarter 2008, Vol. 4, Number 1 – THE DOHA EDITION

From the Editors

April 7th, 2008

The Doha Edition - click here

The first quarter 2008 edition of Tax Justice Focus (TJF) is a special edition focusing on the preparations for the United Nations meeting on Finance for Development in Doha, Qatar, from November 29-December 2, 2008. It is edited by Nicholas Shaxson and John Christensen.

In the editorial, The Road to Doha, we look at six emerging trends which all favour the tax justice agenda, and argue that the next few years present the best opportunity in decades of rolling back the ideology in favour of tax havens, corruption, and abusive tax practices. Powerful vested interests will fiercely resist change, so it is urgent that civil society groups in rich and poor countries now start to get properly involved.

The U.N. Tax Committee has asked PROF. MICHAEL J. MCINTYRE to work up a draft U.N. Code of Conduct to set minimum standards for countries to co-operate on measures to combat capital flight, international tax evasion and abusive tax avoidance. In our lead article Coming Soon – a Code of Conduct on Tax Evasion? Professor McIntyre discusses the historical, political and technical issues.

In their article Capital Flight from Sub-Saharan Africa on page five, LÉONCE NDIKUMANA and JAMES BOYCE at the University of Massachusets, Amherst, describe their new research into the scale of capital flight from 40 countries in Africa. They find the accumulated stock of capital flight, including interest earnings, to be nearly three times the size of these countries’ external debt. Africa is consequently a net creditor to the world – but the assets are in private hands, while the external debts are borne by the governments, and through them the African people.

DAVID SPENCER, a New York-based attorney and a senior adviser to TJN, in his article From Monterrey to Doha: an Overview examines the importance of the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, and the preparations for the follow-up conference in Doha this year. He outlines a series of far-reaching recommendations for the future.

In the following feature article entitled Waking the Slumbering Giants, ALEX WILKS explores why so many non-governmental organisations have been slow to engage with the tax justice agenda, and explains why this is now starting to change.

Other key articles:

* JO MARIE GRIESGRABER on page 11 describes an ambitious new project involving TJN which aims to help governments of developing countries share successful tax practices and build international mechanisms to mobilise their own resources for development. It aims to help broaden the grassroots push for international tax reform by boosting the involvement of developing-country governments, complementing what TJN and other NGOs are already pushing for.

* TOM CARDAMONE AND NICHOLAS SHAXSON then describe a new project called Mapping the Faultlines, involving Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and TJN, which aims to provide the most far-reaching and detailed investigation to date of the global infrastructure of secrecy and structures that facilitate capital flight and illicit capital flows.

* SVEN GIEGOLD, in an article starting on page 12, takes a look at the recent Liechtenstein scandal from the point of view of his native Germany. He explores how the political arguments on tax havens have developed, and draws conclusions and pointers for the future.

This edition also contains two book reviews. The first, by ATTIYA WARIS, looks at Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries: Capacity and Consent – which shows how the very act of taxation fosters better and more accountable states. The second review, by BILL FANT, looks at Taxing Reforms, a book about consumption taxes in several countries, with particular focus on the United States.


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