A Hitchhiker's Guide to Comparative Tax Scholarship
(2020) 24(1) Florida Tax Review 1 - 50
50 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 17, 2021
Comparative law offers scholars a fascinating lens through which to discover new insights about the world, but only if we take on comparative law projects. Few legal scholars devote a substantial strand of their research to comparative study, and so their work fails to benefit from the active and prolonged debates in comparative law. This Article makes a singular, but hopefully substantial, contribution: it seeks to render more accessible the comparative law scholarship with the aim of facilitating easier access to comparative law insights for tax (and hopefully other) law scholars. Put another way, the Article seeks to engage tax comparatists (or would-be comparatists) in a “co-operative enterprise” where we are more likely to engage with each other with the “goal of improving understanding.” In short, it seeks to enhance the discipline of comparative tax law by enabling other tax scholars to write better comparative tax law scholarship.
The Article develops a taxonomy of the purposes of comparative tax scholarship. Understanding comparative tax law scholarship according to its purposes assists scholars in their thinking about how to make and evaluate decisions about their comparative choices. The purpose of a scholarly project dictates some, if not all, of the decisions about what and how things should be compared. Articulating and refining the purpose of a project achieves two goals for authors. First, it provides the scholar with a benchmark against which to make decisions about the scope of the inquiry; which units (countries) should be chosen; how many countries are necessary for comparison to be robust; and how detailed a knowledge of each country’s tax laws, practices, and context is required for an effective study. These are the decisions that generate most of the debate among comparative law scholars. Second, and perhaps most importantly, it provides the scholar (and readers) with the ability to evaluate the quality of the work.
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