Lux Leaks: Revealing the Law, One Plain Brown Envelope at a Time
9 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 22, 2014
A group of journalists recently revealed “LuxLeaks”: a set of documents showing that Luxembourg’s tax authority has been systemically delivering secret deals to multinationals. In this column, I explain why LuxLeaks has revealed a feature, not a bug, in the international tax system. Governments around the world have intentionally placed much of international tax law outside of public view -- in letter rulings like Luxembourg’s, but also in other agency-level decision-making processes, notably in the context of tax treaty dispute resolution. The outcomes of these confidential processes are surely the world’s largest collection of the “real” law of international taxation. But law should not be something discovered through leaks to journalists. Lawmakers could alter this flawed status quo with greater disclosure. I conclude that they don’t appear to favor this approach, but they should.
Keywords: taxation, tax policy, tax avoidance, corporate tax, transparency, disclosure, activism
JEL Classification: D8, D82, F23, L71, L72, K22, E62, H2, H23, H25, H26, K33, K34, A13, D7, D71, D73, D78, M1, M14
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