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Reforming International Taxation: Is the Process the Real Product?


  • Richard M. Bird

    () (University of Toronto)


Reforming international taxation –how national tax systems interact with each other– is an issue that is always technically complex, often economically significant, and sometimes politically explosive. Some expect major changes in international taxation in the near future but no one yet knows what changes will be made or when, how, and how effectively they might be implemented. Instead of speculating about such matters, this paper considers the process by which countries are attempting to reform international taxation problems, essentially through complex technical and political negotia¬tions intended to produce an improved set of “soft” law arrangements, adherence to which will, as in the present system, be essentially voluntary. The current process, although under the aegis of the OECD, is considerably more inclusive than earlier negotiations on international taxation, which were largely between developed countries that were predominantly capital exporters. Greater inclusivity may make negotiations more difficult to conclude successfully but it may also result in a system that will be more widely accepted as fair. Moreover, experience gained through the present prolonged and intensive negotiations on international taxation may perhaps suggest a more fruitful approach to deal¬ing with such other global public goods problems as climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard M. Bird, 2016. "Reforming International Taxation: Is the Process the Real Product?," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 217(2), pages 159-180, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:hpe:journl:y:2016:v:217:i:2:p:159-180

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael P. Devereux & John Vella, 2014. "Are We Heading towards a Corporate Tax System Fit for the 21-super-st Century?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 35, pages 449-475, December.
    2. Dayle Siu, Erika & Nalukwago, Milly Isingoma & Surahmat, Rachmanto & Pereira Valadão, Marcos Aurélio, 2014. "Unitary Taxation in Federal and Regional Integrated Markets," Working Papers 12778, Institute of Development Studies, International Centre for Tax and Development.
    3. Sandler,Todd, 2001. "Economic Concepts for the Social Sciences," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521796774, June.
    4. Valeria Merlo & Nadine Riedel & Georg Wamser, 2015. "The Impact of Thin Capitalization Rules on the Location of Multinational Firms' Foreign Affiliates," CESifo Working Paper Series 5449, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Kaul, Inge & Conceicao, Pedro, 2006. "The New Public Finance: Responding to Global Challenges," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195179972.
    6. Todd Sandler, 1998. "Global and regional public goods: a prognosis for collective action," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(3), pages 221-247, August.
    7. Clemens Fuest & Andreas Peichl, 2012. "European Fiscal Union: What Is It? Does It work? And Are There Really 'No Alternatives'?," CESifo Forum, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(1), pages 03-09, April.
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    9. Leonce Ndikumana, 2014. "International Tax Cooperation and Implications of Globalization," CDP Background Papers 024, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    10. Michael P. Devereux & John Vella, 2015. "Are We Heading towards a Corporate Tax System Fit for the 21st Century?," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(4), pages 03-07, January.
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    1. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:25:y:2018:i:5:d:10.1007_s10797-018-9487-2 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    International tax; OECD; negotiation; tax treaties; international relations.;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law


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