chapter  1
8 Pages

Introduction: international tax complexity as a political problem

The politics of international taxation is one of the less explored aspects of globalisation. Lawyers1 have documented the growing complexity of tax laws affecting the cross-border activity of transnational corporations and individuals, and economists2 have measured tax-induced distortions of economic activity, but the analysis of actors, principles, norms, rules, models of behaviour, and organisations dealing with the international tax order has barely emerged (Bird 1988; Tanzi 1995) and therefore deserves more in-depth analysis. There are several reasons for analysing international taxation from the perspective of political science. First, the liberalisation of capital movement (Sinn 1990) and the increasing mobility of skilled labour (Tanzi 1995) represent an objective threat to the link between taxation and representation. In the most extreme scenario, capital income taxes will be lowered, perhaps to zero, by the dynamics of tax competition and governments will be obliged to impose an increasing tax burden on unskilled labour and landowners, which are the only two immobile factors in a deeply integrated economy.