What's Wrong With Shaming Corporate Tax Abuse
52 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2009 Last revised: 14 Jan 2010
Date Written: April 29, 2009
The public spotlight has emerged as a potential instrument for stopping corporations from pursuing shady tax shelters. The inadequacy of the exclusive use of monetary penalties and targeted statutory fixes has recently led politicians and academics to suggest that the federal government consider an approach to the corporate tax abuse problem that has been used in other contexts for thousands of years - public shaming. This Article considers the merits of public shaming as a deterrent of corporate tax abuse. While several commentators have focused on the potential advantages of shaming sanctions as a response to corporate tax abuse, this Article examines their potential disadvantages. My claim is that, in contrast to their successful use in other tax enforcement contexts, shaming sanctions would likely fail to deter corporations from pursuing abusive tax shelters and, instead, could have the unintended effect of weakening important aspects of tax compliance. As a result, I conclude that shaming should be rejected as a means of reducing corporate tax abuse.
Keywords: tax shelter, corporate tax abuse, reputation, shaming, disclosure, IRS, penalties
JEL Classification: H20, H23, H24, H25, H26, H29, K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation