U.S. Tax Imperialism in Puerto Rico

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

See all articles by Diane Lourdes Dick

Diane Lourdes Dick

The University of Iowa College of Law

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)

The University of Iowa College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States
52242 (Fax)

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