U.S. Tax Imperialism in Puerto Rico

87 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2016 Last revised: 30 Mar 2016

Date Written: January 1, 2016


This Article uses historical and legal analysis to demonstrate how U.S. domination over Puerto Rico’s tax and fiscal policies has been the centerpiece of a colonial system and an especially destructive form of economic imperialism. Specifically, this Article develops a novel theory of U.S. tax imperialism in Puerto Rico, chronicling the sundry ways in which the United States has used tax laws to exert economic dominance over its less developed island colony. During the colonial period, U.S. officials wrote and revised Puerto Rican tax laws to serve U.S. economic interests. In more recent years, U.S. tax laws have disadvantaged Puerto Ricans, who still lack voting rights and full democratic representation in Congress. A theory of tax imperialism may also have application far beyond the U.S.-Puerto Rican experience. For instance, it may help us understand the relationships between the United States and its other possessions and territories throughout history, and between the United Kingdom and its British Crown dependencies, overseas territories, and newly-independent colonies.

Keywords: Puerto Rico, tax, imperialism, economic relations, legal history, Latin American studies

Suggested Citation

Dick, Diane Lourdes, U.S. Tax Imperialism in Puerto Rico (January 1, 2016). American University Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 1, 2016, Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 16-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2735366

Diane Lourdes Dick (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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