Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tax and policy leadership: G20 and OECD, developing countries

From the Michigan Law School's Tax Policy Workship co-ordinated by tax expert Reuven Avi-Yonah, a paper by Alison Christians of the University of Wisconsin draws attention to some important points. Entitled Taxation in a Time of Crisis: Policy Leadership from the OECD to the G20, its introduction notes that

"An entrenched international architecture of tax policy expertise ensures that a small group of established players continue to shape tax norms and practices throughout the world. This architecture is based on historical international power relationships and institutional history. For diplomatic restructuring on the world stage to usher in a new age of inclusion for previously marginalized states and peoples, systemic changes must also take place in these entrenched institutions and processes."

It notes that although the G20 includes many developing countries,

"The G20 does not and probably cannot create a “new paradigm for international engagements” in tax policy, foremost because it lacks the infrastructure necessary to activate tax policy development on an international scale. The G20 is neither well-suited nor likely intended to provide an alternative policymaking space. Instead, the G20’s role
in the context of tax policy appears mainly to be one of syndicating, and thereby compelling consensus to, norms formulated, debated, and implemented by the OECD."

. . .
While crisis may have demonstrated the need for developing countries to play a greater role in global economic decision-making, it seems clear that at least in the area of tax policy, inclusiveness for developing countries will be elusive so long as the framing, discussion, and consensus building takes place within an established order that continues to be dominated by the world’s wealthiest countries."

Food for thought. And for action.


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