Ten Truths About Tax Havens: Inclusion and the ‘Liberia’ Problem

28 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2021 Last revised: 16 Sep 2021

See all articles by Steven Dean

Steven Dean

Brooklyn Law School

Attiya Waris

School of Law, University of Nairobi

Date Written: April 8, 2021


There has been a decades-long effort to repair an increasingly fragile international tax system. One reason it has foundered has been what we identify as the ‘Liberia problem.’ In 2000, the powerful Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development identified Liberia—but not Switzerland—as a tax haven and targeted it for sanctions. It did not go well. During the two decades since, everything has changed; yet seemingly from this lens of inclusion, nothing has changed at all. Awkwardly similar “blacklists” still target ‘Black’ and ‘Brown’ jurisdictions despite the fact that experts mean something quite different when they speak of the “scourge of tax havens” and secrecy jurisdictions. We think differently in important respects but believe that those real disagreements demonstrate the need for a less-insular global tax policymaking apparatus. And we share a conviction that a more inclusive and more level playing field in the international tax arena would benefit all states. To show why, we offer a series of possible “truths” designed to prompt a long-overdue conversation about perceptions of bias and privilege in international taxation.

Keywords: Tax havens, systemic racism, international tax, minimum tax, settler colonialism, gender

Suggested Citation

Dean, Steven and Waris, Attiya, Ten Truths About Tax Havens: Inclusion and the ‘Liberia’ Problem (April 8, 2021). Emory Law Journal, Vol. 70, No. 7, 2021, Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 670, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3822421

Steven Dean (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

Attiya Waris

School of Law, University of Nairobi ( email )

P O Box 30197
Nairobi, Nairobi 00100

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics