My research investigates the political economy of international tax cooperation, particularly in countries of the ‘Global South’. In my PhD project, I study why countries in South Asia participate in, or abstain from, international tax cooperation frameworks. My other research interests include the political economy of international institutions and attitudes towards fiscal policy.
You find a synopsis of current work in progress below.
Why do countries in South Asia participate in international tax cooperation? Evidence from the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS (PhD Project)
In 2012, the G20 mandated the OECD to develop a set of tools to comprehensively combat base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) issues. After a first phase open only to OECD and G20 jurisdictions, low- and middle-income economies were admitted to the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS in 2016. The uptake among low-income countries has been mixed, with the number of participants versus non-participants being roughly evenly split. Depending on one’s perspective, both the participation and the non-participation of a large number of low-income economies in the Inclusive Framework constitutes a puzzle. One the one hand, a number of countries opted for participation despite continued criticism of the institutional set-up of the BEPS Project and its agenda. At the same time, the opening of the Inclusive Framework opened an opportunity for low-income economies to finally be included in negotiations – something that had been called for since the start of the BEPS Project. Therefore, a more general question arises: Why, and based on what considerations, do low-income countries participate in international tax cooperation? I study this question through the lense of business lobbying and investment politics, thereby seeking to contribute to a better understanding of the drivers of international tax policy making in lower-income countries. The research is based on qualitative research in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
Business interests and institutional design in the international tax regime (in progress)
The role of multinational firms (MNEs) in global governance has so far primarily been studied in terms of their influence through lobbying on international agreements. But how do business interests shape the institutional structure of international regimes? More precisely, what role do businesses play in the transformation of an international regime from a predominantly bilateral to an emerging multilateral structure? Bringing together literature on business lobbying and institutional design, this paper investigates the institutional preferences of firms in the international tax transparency regime. Drawing on institutional design literature and existing accounts of corporate political strategy in international regimes, it first identifies the institutional implications of four ideal-typical political strategies (opposition, two version of hedging, and support) along five dimensions of an international regime: membership, coherence, formality, scope, and decision-making mechanisms. Drawing on a mix of secondary and primary sources, part two of the paper investigates the drivers of institutional preference of firms and their subsequent choices of lobbying strategies in the tax transparency regime.
Tax leaks and public opinion (with Vincent Arel-Bundock, Université de Montréal, in progress)
The recent years have seen a number of tax leaks, thereby pushing tax evasion and avoidance onto the public agenda. At the same time, growing inequality has prompted many Western states to reconsider the introduction of a wealth tax, and has prompted a tighter regulation of corporate tax evasion. How are both developments connected? How do tax leaks impact public opinion towards different forms of taxation? Tax leaks reveal a dimension of wealth and tax evasion strategies to protect it that is otherwise hidden to the public. The render questions about the size of the ‘fair share’ of contributions of different social groups towards the collective good more salient, thereby pointing to questions of redistribution, meritocracy, and the legitimacy of inequalities that are inherent in public debates about taxation. This paper therefore studies the impact of tax leaks on attitudes towards wealth, personal income, corporate taxation, and meritocracy through a survey experiment conducted in Germany.