A family of big brother that do not talk each other
Professor Slemrod’s IFS annual lecture (2006) concerning recent fiscal development in the U.S. is an interesting, thoughtful piece of high level taxation theory. However, I believe a couple of remarks ought to be made here. One is that the lecture sounded somewhat “American” to the ears of a continental European tax scholar. The U.S. Supreme Court is increasingly committed towards defending individuals’ privacy rights, unlike its Europe counterparts. Some Buchanan’s wind blows all around. Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine that tax administrations, which in many countries are rather poor at performing the simplest everyday tasks, could be transformed into well-organised, efficiently run, Big Brother-like organisations. Professor Slemrod expects Oceania to be with us with a decade or two. However, in the long run, globalisation will constrain the modelling of tax systems to a far greater degree than it already does. Several forces are going to shape tax designs consisting of simple, barely progressive taxes, largely applied in a shedular way in the source countries, ,while global income tax will be abandoned. all together. There is going to be an increase in the proportion of taxes based on the benefit principle. The restoration of the residence principle, and the rebuilding of a global, personalised income tax, could result from a rapid rise in the sharing of information among countries concerning revenue earned and taxes paid in different countries by the same tax payers. Back in 1999, Tanzi and Zee had already warned us that a country providing tax information on non-resident taxpayers would become a less attractive option in a world of increasing tax competition. Tanzi and Zee also produced a long list of factors which may make information-sharing ineffective. Similar conclusions were recently drawn by Keen and Ligthart (2006).
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- James M. Buchanan & Richard A. Musgrave, 1999. "Public Finance and Public Choice: Two Contrasting Visions of the State," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262024624, June.
- Joel Slemrod, 2006. "Taxation and Big Brother: information, personalisation and privacy in 21st century tax policy," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 27(1), pages 1-15, March.
- Michael Keen & Jenny Ligthart, 2006. "Information Sharing and International Taxation: A Primer," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 81-110, January.
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