Regulating Tax Competition in Offshore Financial Centers

35 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2008 Last revised: 6 Feb 2010

Date Written: September 1, 2008


One of the more entrenched issues in international taxation over the last thirty years has been how to define and respond appropriately to harmful tax competition among nations, especially competition from offshore financial centers (OFCs). The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) have both mounted initiatives seeking to regulate such competition, and OFCs have strongly objected to these initiatives as an abrogation of their sovereignty in tax matters.

This paper provides an introduction to the debate over the regulation of international tax competition, beginning with an overview of the essential architecture of international taxation and the way that its structure creates problems for developed countries and opportunities for OFCs, and continuing with an assessment of the arguments asserted in favor of, and against, regulating tax competition. The paper then examines how developed countries, through the OECD and EU, have defined international tax competition, and the efforts made by both organizations to regulate such competition. Finally, the paper draws on the way the OECD and EU dealt specifically with the twin touchstones of virtually all definitions of tax havens-low or no income taxation and bank secrecy-to suggest the direction that regulation of tax competition is likely to take in the future.

Keywords: International Taxation, Tax Competition, Offshore Financial Centers ( OFC ), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD ), European Union ( EU ), Tax structure, Developing Countries, Tax Havens, Tax Evasion, Cayman Islands, Caribbean, Savings Tax Directive, Level playing field, I

JEL Classification: K33, K34, K40

Suggested Citation

Boise, Craig M., Regulating Tax Competition in Offshore Financial Centers (September 1, 2008). Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-26, Available at SSRN: or

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