Hard Law & Soft Law in International Taxation

10 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2007


Why do countries follow the rules they do for international taxation? Tax scholarship is increasingly using terms like hard law and soft law to explain the degree of global adherence to various tax practices. In this brief essay, I make the case that terms we use are important because they convey something about how tax norms are being formed and how nations will or should behave in response. Using a term such a customary or soft law may connote a method by which key players working within transnational networks achieve supranationalization of particular tax norms outside of conventional mechanisms (e.g., treaties). As such, the description is an important signal about expectations for participation, inclusiveness, and compliance in the development and diffusion of international tax law.

Keywords: tax policy, tax norms, norm diffusion, customary law, international law, soft law, soft power, transnational networks, supranational organzations, OECD, harmful tax practices, participation, legitimacy

JEL Classification: H11, H21, H87, F02, F50, F53, F59, Z13

Suggested Citation

Christians, Allison, Hard Law & Soft Law in International Taxation. Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 2007, Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1049, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=988782

Allison Christians (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec H3A 1W9

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