Transparency, Tax and Human Rights
26 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018
Date Written: May 15, 2018
Transparency has attracted unprecedented attention in national and global debates about taxation in recent years. It has been adopted as a goal by international organizations, governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), academic commentators, media and citizens across the political spectrum. There has been a particular focus on transparency to enforce taxation of multinational enterprises and high wealth individuals, with a specific goal of addressing avoidance and evasion in tax havens. The pursuit of transparency in taxation is consistent with broader trends, as John Braithwaite and Peter Drahos observed nearly two decades ago that transparency was the "most" striking emergent principle” in global regulation. However, who is transparent, concerning what data, process, or outcomes, why transparency is the goal and how it is intended to achieve the stated regulatory outcome, differ depending on the context. The paper explores the meaning and uses of transparency in a fiscal context, where it started as transparency of governments and budgets to the people, but more recently has shifted to focus on the transparency of taxpayers to governments, between governments, and even to the public. The paper asks, what does tax transparency achieve, when is it justified, how does it serve human rights and what are its costs?
Keywords: tax transparency
JEL Classification: K00, K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation