Putting the Reign Back in Sovereign: Advice for the Second Obama Administration

43 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2013 Last revised: 9 Jun 2013

Date Written: January 21, 2013


In its first term, the Obama administration enacted two pieces of legislation, each designed to protect an increasingly vulnerable income tax base, and each of which had the potential to set a new and unprecedented course for no less than the regulation of the global economy by the nation-state. The first, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), sought to end global tax evasion through tax havens. The second, a little-noticed two-page addendum to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), sought to end the contribution of American multinationals to corruption in governance by codifying the transparency principles of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Both of these reforms reasserted a role for the nation state in regulating people and resources. But neither has yet to fulfill its potential. First, each has raised difficult questions about what the state can and cannot do to enforce disclosure and compliance on a global basis; failing to answer these questions is impeding implementation and aggravating an already-flagging taxpayer morale. Second, neither is broad enough: FATCA should be truly reciprocal and EITI should expand beyond the extractive industries. By acknowledging and responding in a principled way to the obstacles that limit their effectiveness, a second Obama administration could take significant steps to bring each piece of legislation to its potential, while ensuring that its scope focuses on its intended target in each case. This article outlines how these proposals could be accomplished and makes the case that they should be attempted.

Keywords: Taxation, International tax, FATCA, EITI, transparency, compliance, administration, globalization, institutions, citizenship, state, global governance, international relations, tax policy, tax norms

JEL Classification: H11, H21, H87, F02, F50, F53, F59, Z13, E63, H2, K33, K34, N40, P45

Suggested Citation

Christians, Allison, Putting the Reign Back in Sovereign: Advice for the Second Obama Administration (January 21, 2013). Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 5, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2204706

Allison Christians (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec

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