Monday, December 14, 2015

Update to Canada's FATCA litigation

The grassroots group responsible for launching the FATCA-based litigation in Canada has issued a public call for witnesses. They are looking for "a Canadian who has been somehow harmed by this FATCA legislation, are interested in helping out by becoming a Witness in our lawsuit, and are willing to have your affidavit statements and name go public." The group is up front about the risks involved in coming forward: being a witness is to expose oneself to public scrutiny, some of which is decidedly hostile, as well as of course the risk of ruinous consequences deriving from US tax rules as they apply to noncompliant nonresident persons' lives.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Understanding the Accidental American: Tina's Story

Tax Analysts has published my talk on taxpayer rights and citizenship-based taxation as enforced via FATCA, which I gave in November at the International Conference on Taxpayer Rights in Washington DC, organized by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. Tax Analysts' content is normally gated but they have made this column available on their free site.

Friday, November 20, 2015

FATCA, Citizenship-Based Tax, and Taxpayer Rights

I recently sat down with Bob Goulder of Tax Analysts to talk about FATCA, citizenship-based taxation, renunciation, and taxpayer rights.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves 8 Tax Treaties

Senator Rand Paul has been holding up tax treaties for several years but he apparently stepped away from the Foreign Relations Committee yesterday and eight slipped through. They will be considered by the full Senate which I assume will give consent to their ratification, since as far as I know Sen. Paul was the only opponent. From Reuters:
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday approved eight long-delayed international tax treaties, which had been held up for years because of one Republican senator's objections, despite support from companies that want consistency in rules for how to do international business. 
The treaties are with Switzerland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Chile, Spain, Poland and Japan and the international convention on mutual assistance on tax matters. 
U.S. Senator Rand Paul objected to the agreements for privacy reasons, saying they would allow more inter-governmental sharing of financial information on citizens, which U.S. officials deny. Although the Republican is a member of the committee, he was not at the meeting where the pacts were approved by unanimous voice vote. 
It was not yet certain when the treaties would be considered by the 100-member U.S. Senate, where they need a two-thirds vote to be ratified.


Please Give: Passionate Plea for IRS Funding from Former IRS Commissioners

The IRS faces constant funding pressure from Congress, despite becoming a victim of constant mission creep thanks to Congressional mandates (ACA and FATCA in particular). Over the years many have pled with Congress to stop underfunding the agency. The latest comes from seven former commissioners, who note that not least among the reasons to fund the IRS is the need to spend money on cyber security as the IRS fends off one million hacking attempts each week.

That's a lot of hacking because of course the payload is enormous. FATCA has surely expanded the payload significantly by developing an enormous database of personal information attached to bank account numbers and detailed account activity on a global scale. Even a small breach of security with respect to that vault will be disastrous for the taxpayers involved.

The commissioners also suggest that the IRS workload is going to increase due to BEPS. BEPS is expected to result in more treaty-based conflicts among jurisdictions, so I expect more competent authority hours will be needed. But it's likely also the case that country-by-country reporting requirements will add another enormous treasure trove of information to the database, further increasing the payload.

At minimum, Congress has simply got to fund security for this massively expanding taxpayer information database.
November 9, 2015

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman
U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
2406 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski
Vice Chairwoman
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
503 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey
Ranking Member
U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515 
Subject: IRS Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2016
Dear Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey: 
We are all former Commissioners of the Internal Revenue Service. Over the last fifty years we served during the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush.

We are writing to express our great concern about the proposed reductions by the House and Senate in appropriations for the Internal Revenue Service for the current fiscal year that will end on September 30, 2016. We understand that the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate have proposed to reduce the FY 2015 IRS appropriation of $10.9 billion by $838 million and $470 million, respectively, for the current fiscal year. If Congress were to reduce the IRS appropriation for the current year, it would represent yet another reduction in the IRS appropriation. The appropriations reductions for the IRS over the last five years total $1.2 billion, more than a 17% cut from the IRS appropriation for 2010. None of us ever experienced, nor are we aware of, any IRS appropriations reductions of this magnitude over such a prolonged period of time. The impact on the IRS of these reductions is that the IRS has lost approximately 15,000 full-time employees through attrition over the last five years, with more losses likely in the current fiscal year unless Congress reverses the funding trend. These staffing reductions come at a time when the IRS workforce is aging, with nearly 52% of IRS employees now over the age of 50 and 24% already eligible to retire. Three years from now, 38% of IRS employees will be eligible to retire. This loss of IRS knowledge and experience is alarming, particularly in light of the fact that, out of a present workforce of about 85,000 employees, the IRS has only about 3,400 employees under the age of 30 and only 384 employees under the age of 25 due to hiring freezes for budgetary reasons at the IRS since 2010 and periodically from 2005 to 2010. Over the last fifty years, none of us has ever witnessed anything like what has happened to the IRS appropriations over the last five years and the impact these appropriations reductions are having on our tax system.

These reductions in IRS appropriations are difficult to understand in light of the fact that, at the same time these reductions have occurred, the Congress repeatedly has passed major tax legislation to substantially increase the IRS workload. Most recently the Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, two major new programs, each of which significantly expands the IRS' tax administration burdens. The IRS personnel reductions come at a time when the IRS is stretched to the breaking point to cope with tax enforcement challenges attributable to global and domestic changes that are impacting our tax system. Increasingly, the United States is facing tax challenges as the result of efforts that are taking place in the international tax arena to deal with the tax non-compliance that is accompanying the continued globalization of business and investment activities. The most recent tax changes to address international tax non-compliance are proposed in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Report. Regardless of one's view of these proposed changes, it is clear that the IRS will be substantially impacted by changes and challenges of other countries who adopt them.

Additionally, increasing incidents of identity theft and refund fraud are being perpetrated against our tax system by large, sophisticated organized crime syndicates around the world. These criminals seek to file false returns and claim fraudulent refunds using personal taxpayer data obtained from sources outside the IRS. At the same time, many unlicensed, unregulated return preparers are preparing and filing fraudulent tax refund returns. Every time there is an information technology hacking event in the public or private sectors in which Social Security numbers are stolen, the likelihood exists for additional identity theft and refund fraud. The growing refund fraud challenge to our tax system is especially alarming to us because of the need, which is fundamental to our tax system, for the IRS to be able to assure taxpayers who are paying their fair share of taxes that other taxpayers are doing the same thing. To emphasize the seriousness of refund fraud, the Government Accountability Office earlier this year placed identity theft and refund fraud on its list of "high risk areas" in the federal government, a sure sign to each of us that the IRS should have more, not fewer, enforcement resources to deal with this threat to the integrity of our tax system,

To place the impact on our tax system of the Congressional IRS appropriations reductions over the last five years in its proper context, Congress almost annually over the last 25 years has passed legislation that has imposed additional burdens on IRS tax collection and administration under our revenue laws. During this time, the Congress also repeatedly added more and more socio-economic incentives to the tax code and called upon the IRS to administer these new socio-economic programs, including healthcare, retirement, social welfare, education, energy, housing, and economic stimulus programs, none of which is related to the principal job of the IRS to collect revenue. At the same time, Congress passed even more legislation to pay for these tax spending programs. The result is that almost 30 years after the 1986 Tax Reform Act, our tax laws are a mess. Our tax laws have become so difficult for taxpayers to understand that 80% of all individual taxpayers now use paid consultants or software to prepare their income tax returns. Because of insufficient IRS resources in FY 2015, an average of more than 60 percent of the taxpayers who called the IRS for assistance in preparing their returns during the last filing season were unable to reach an IRS assistor, even after many taxpayers had remained on the telephone for more than 30 minutes before they were automatically cut off because of the volume of calls, which the reduced numbers of IRS assistors were unable to handle. Equally serious are the cybersecurity threats illustrated by the problem that occurred earlier this year involving unauthorized attempts to access taxpayer information using the IRS' Get Transcript online application. Separately, the IRS continues to experience about one million attempts each week to hack into its main information technology systems. Although the IRS has so far successfully thwarted these attacks and its main systems remain secure, all of this astonishes us and emphasizes to each of us that the IRS taxpayer assistance and IRS information technology resources are severely underfunded, especially when compared to the increasing cybersecurity budgets of private sector companies.

It is clear to each of us that the IRS appropriations reductions over the last five years materially and adversely affect the ability of the IRS to assist taxpayers who are trying to comply with their tax obligations, as well as the ability of the IRS to detect and deter taxpayers who have not complied with their tax obligations. Recently, we understand that the IRS estimated a direct annual revenue loss to the Federal government in tax enforcement at $6 billion last year and $8 billion this year, due to such appropriations reductions. Historically, for every dollar invested in IRS tax enforcement, the United States received $4 or more in return, and we understand that continues to be true today.

The Congressional Budget Office in its June 2015 Long-Term Budget Outlook projected future fiscal challenges to the United States because of the large and increasing size of our national debt and rising future operating deficits attributable to an aging U.S. population and rising healthcare costs. It, therefore, is imperative that our tax system in the future operate at an optimal level in order to maximize the revenues the IRS collects. For that to happen, the IRS must be able to assist taxpayers who are trying to comply with their tax obligations, and at the same time be able to enforce the tax laws against those taxpayers who have not complied with their tax obligations. In short, because of our country's fiscal and other challenges, our tax system must work and work well to collect the taxes that are owed.

Some have argued that the IRS can solve these problems by simply becoming more efficient. This argument ignores the reality that the IRS is already, by far, the most efficient tax collection agency among large countries in the world. The OECD recently released its bi-annual analysis of tax administration across the developed world and reported, based on 2013 statistics which don't reflect the most recent IRS budget cuts, that the amount the IRS spends to collect a dollar in taxes is approximately half the average amount spent by all OECD countries. Germany, France, England, Canada and Australia all spend as much as two to three times the amount the IRS does to collect a dollar of revenue.

In light of the foregoing, we fail to understand how it makes any logical sense to continue to reduce, rather than increase, the IRS budget for FY 2016 in order to optimize the IRS' ability to provide taxpayer service and to enforce the tax laws to increase revenue collections. To put it succinctly, we do not understand why anyone with present and projected debts and annual losses as large as those of the United States would refuse to pay for telephone assistance to people trying to fulfill their tax obligations, would turn their back on $8 billion annually in additional revenue, or would fail to make an investment that offers a return equal to at least four times the amount invested. For these reasons, we respectfully call upon each of you to support and work to accomplish the passage of an IRS appropriations request for FY 2016 that is substantially in excess of the appropriation for the IRS in FY 2015.

Mortimer M. Caplin (1961-64)

Sheldon S. Cohen (1965-69)

Lawrence B. Gibbs (1986-89)

Fred T. Goldberg, Jr. (1989-92)

Shirley D. Peterson (1992-93)

Margaret M. Richardson (1993-97)

Charles O. Rossotti (1997-2002)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jinyan Li on China and BEPS

Jinyan Li of Osgoode Hall recently posted a paper of interest: China and BEPS: From Norm-Taker to Norm-Shaker. Here is the abstract:
 This article considers the implications for China of the G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative and the international implications of China's BEPS measures. More specifically, the article examines China's transfer pricing, anti-treaty shopping and general anti-avoidance rules. It suggests that China is transforming itself from a taker of international norms to a shaker of such norms.
Li notes that China is viewed as a victim of BEPS, that the phenomenon "highlights the unfairness in sharing the tax base between developed countries and developing countries," and that the OECD initiative is an opportunity for China to gain traction in global tax governance. From the conclusion:
China’s BEPS measures go beyond the scope of the BEPS initiative. ... China has high hopes on the outcomes of the BEPS initiative. At the same time, China appears to be realistic regarding what can be achieved at a global level. The BEPS initiative is not about redesigning the basic international tax rules and the system continues to be biased in favour of capital exporting countries (CEN), i.e. residence countries. The BEPS initiative is not designed to rethink the arm’s length principle to assign more value to productive activities and markets in both developing countries and developed countries. Instead, the BEPS initiative pursues the objective of attributing more profits to the jurisdiction where intangibles are generated, which are predominantly developed countries. 
China has a high stake in the future of the international tax system, as it is both a major recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) and a major source of outbound FDI. The BEPS initiative marks the beginning of a process that involves China. It is uncertain if the G20 and OECD member countries will be able to agree on the recommendations of the BEPS initiative and introduce the necessary legislative changes to initiate the reforms. It is even more uncertain as to the effect of the BEPS initiative on developing countries, in spite of the efforts of the UN Subcommittee and the DWG. However, to the extent that BEPS is shaking up the international tax norm, China is surely an active norm-shaker.

Today at McGill: Dan Shaviro on Recent International Tax Policy Developments

The Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium at McGill continues today with a presentation by Daniel Shaviro, Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation at New York University School of Law, on his paper entitled The Crossroads Versus the Seesaw: Getting a 'Fix' on Recent International Tax Policy Developments. Here is the abstract:
U.S. international tax policy is at a crossroads, say those who urge the United States to adopt what common parlance would call a territorial system. They argue that one of the two ways forward they identify – trying to fortify the current U.S. system – would lead to ever-costlier outlier status for our tax system, and ever-declining competitiveness for U.S. multinationals. They therefore urge U.S. policymakers to embrace what they identify as the other way forward: conforming to global norms by adopting a territorial system. An alternative metaphor to that of the crossroads, more likely to appeal to proponents of addressing stateless income than to pro-territorialists, is that of the seesaw. Under this view, while policymakers in OECD countries may long have deliberately tolerated profit-shifting by multinationals – perhaps as an informal way of lowering effective tax rates for these often highly mobile taxpayers – at some point they became convinced that it had gone too far. Thus, proponents of restricting stateless income want to tip the balance somewhat (but not too far) back in the other direction. For example, they may want to ensure that each increment of a multinational’s global income will be subject to tax somewhere – but just once, rather than either zero times or twice, under what has been called the “single tax principle.” 
In my 2014 book Fixing U.S. International Taxation, I tried to offer a better analytical framework for international tax policy than either of the above. The concepts that I hoped to sideline or even banish included not only the single tax principle, along with the “worldwide versus territorial” framework – which I disparaged as conflating multiple margins, even leaving aside countries’ hybridity in practice – but also normative reliance on the whole rancid “alphabet soup” of single-margin neutrality benchmarks such as capital export neutrality (CEN), capital import neutrality (CIN), and capital ownership neutrality (CON). A number of important things have happened in international tax policy since Fixing went to press. For example: (1) The United States has faced a rising tide of corporate inversions, in which foreign companies acquire U.S. companies, at least partly with the aim of lessening the sting of residence-based U.S. rules. (2) The OECD’s BEPS project has been steaming forward, although its long-term prospects, with respect both to ongoing multilateral cooperation and results on the ground, remain uncertain. (3) The U.K. government has announced plans for enacting the so-called “Google tax,” controversially aimed at profit-shifting by multinationals, and in particular those that by non-U.K. companies. (4) A number of leading U.S. policymakers have issued ambitious international tax reform proposals, in several instances offering novel approaches that vary from current practice both in the United States and elsewhere. 
This paper offers a brief review of how the main principles I advanced in Fixing, as proposed substitutes for the standard “worldwide versus territorial” framework, relate to, and may help us in evaluating, these recent developments.
This year's colloquium focuses on the fundamentals of corporate tax policy by critically examining issues in national and international tax policy; more information about the colloquium here. Today's talk will take place from 13:30-16:30 in Room 312 of New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Ave, Montreal. Students, faculty and the McGill community in Montreal are welcome to attend.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tax Cooperation and Competition Conference tomorrow in Montreal

Tax Coop Montreal will be taking place tomorrow at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal. It promises to be an action-packed day. Here is the conference program:
8:30-9:00 Welcome and Registration
9:00 - 09:10 Opening Remarks
9:10 - 10:15 COMPETITION AND TAXATION: A LOOK AT THE LANDSCAPE: Katharina Becker,  Allison Christians,  Peter Dietsch and Lyne Latulippe
10:15 - 10:40 TAX COMPETITION AMID ASYMMETRICAL INFORMATION: Elise J. Bean
10:40 Break11:00 - 11:40 COMPETING WHEN YOUR COMPETITORS DON’T PAY TAX. INSIDERS’ VIEW: Steven Adams,  Tasso Lagios and Natalie St-Pierre
11:40 - 12:30 FROM GLOBAL TO LOCAL TAX COMPETITION: WHEN TAX COMPETITION HITS CLOSE TO HOME: Governor Sam Brownback,  Blanca Moreno-Dodson and Paul Waldie
12:30 Lunch14:00 - 14:35 THE OECD’S BEPS PROJECT UPDATE: Pascal Saint-Amans
14:35 - 15:10  IT’S LEGAL, BUT IS IT MORAL? TAX MORALITY AND ITS LIMITS: Brian J. Arnold,  Alison Holder and Jean-Pierre Vidal
15:10 - 16:00 OPINION LEADERS WHO HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE: Brigitte Alepin,  Margaret Hodge and Lee Sheppard
16:00 Break16:30 - 17:45 CORPORATE TAX ON TRIAL: Dan Mitchell and Richard Murphy go head to head: Moderated by  Louise Otis and Jay K. Rosengard.
17:45 - 20:00 Closing Cocktail: Toward Tax Coop 2016

Today at McGill Law: Richard Murphy on the Fair Tax Mark

The Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium at McGill University continues today with a presentation by Richard Murphy of Tax Research LLP and the Tax Justice Network, on the Fair Tax Mark. This event is presented in conjunction with a collaborative project between the Stikeman Chair in Taxation and the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy at McGill Law on the topic of how regulation impacts innovation.

The Fair Tax Mark is a self-regulation project that seeks to intervene in the ongoing relationship between corporations, society, and the state. Like other certifications such as Fair Trade, the Fair Tax Mark is a voluntary program intended to project an image of openness, honesty and trustworthiness in tax matters to consumers and investors. The Mark is about paying taxes, but it is also about dramatically increasing transparency about how multinationals undertake tax planning as a business strategy. This places the payment of tax and the attendant planning and scheming squarely within the realm of corporate social responsibility. The Mark suggests that demonstrating some level of compliance with NGO expectations about global tax justice is becoming a cost of doing business, thus comprising a (or contributing to an existing) social license to operate.

This year's colloquium focuses on the fundamentals of corporate tax policy by critically examining issues in national and international tax policy; more information about the colloquium here. Today's talk will take place from 14:30-17:30pm in Room 202 of New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Ave, Montreal. Students, faculty and the McGill community in Montreal are welcome to attend.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Global Justice Post-2015

The Global Justice Program at Yale University is currently hosting a conference exploring the post-2015 agenda for human rights and global justice. List of speakers and topics:
Day One: October 30 
Panel 1: Global Tax Fairness: Allison Christians, Manuel Montes, Erika Siu; Chair: Zorka Milin)  
Amartya Sen Prize Contest Ceremony 
Panel 2: Illicit financial flows, human rights and the post-2015 agenda - Discussion of Independent Expert’s Report: Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Nicholas Lusiani, LĂ©once Ndikumana, Esther Shubert; Chair: Tom Cardamon 
Panel 3: Addis, Post-2015, and future efforts against Illicit Financial Flows: Tom Cardamone, Steven Dean, Gail Hurley and Jakob Schwab; Chair: Laura Biron 
Day Two: October 31  
Statement of the Health Impact Fund (HIF) and mini-HIF, including discussion: Aidan Hollis, Thomas Pogge; Chair: Alex Sayegh  
Panel 4: Mini-HIF: Piloting the Health Impact Fund: Laura Biron, Aidan Hollis, Peter Maybarduk, Thomas Pogge, Jeffrey Sachs, Richard Wilder; Chair: Tendayi Bloom
Concluding Session on the Health Impact Fund  
Panel 5: Individual Deprivation Measure, Poverty Measurement: Sharon Bessell, Thomas Pogge, Scott Wisor; Chair: Yuan Yuan. 
Day Three: November 1  
Panel 6: Oslo Principles on Climate Change Obligations: Thomas Pogge, Jaap Spier, Kira Vinke; Chair: Shmulik Nili 
Panel 7: Sustainable Development Goals (Daniel Esty, Thomas Pogge, Jeffrey Sachs; Chair: Corinna Mieth.
I presented yesterday on the topic of "Global Tax Fairness." I discussed the connection between taxation and human rights, highlighting the challenges for the realization of rights and justice that are posed by tax competition and exploring whether and how systemic change is possible. I have a couple of works in progress on the topic and will post drafts when ready.

In the meantime, I'm experimenting with making my powerpoint presentations available online (along with other resources in the future). You can view a list here: see pull down menu entitled "resources". Comments and suggestions are welcome.




Friday, October 23, 2015

Reconsidering the Tax Treaty: Brooklyn Law Symposium

I'm very pleased to participate in Brooklyn Law School's annual international tax symposium today. This year's theme is Reconsidering the Tax Treaty: a timely topic given the OECD's release of the BEPS Reports, especially Action 6, and the US Treasury's release of proposed new Model Provisions.

My working paper looks at these developments, with a specific focus on the proposed "special tax regimes" and "subsequent changes in law" switch off clauses--in effect, two built-in mini-override provisions. Mine is truly a work in progress and not ready for distribution yet but here is the basic framework:

Seeing STRs: A New Vision for Tax Treaties?

The new US Model treaty contains several new provisions designed to address treaty abuses, in line with the ongoing OECD initiative to counter base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). Among these are two dealing with foreign law. The first denies treaty withholding rates on interest, royalties, and other income to taxpayers eligible for “special tax regimes” (STRs) in the treaty partner country. The second completely switches off the treaty withholding rates for all recipients of passive income items in prescribed situations where the partner country reduces its tax rate below 15%. The STR provision is limited in scope to taxpayers who receive special deals, but the subsequent law provision partially terminates the treaty as to every taxpayer (ostensibly in both countries) even if they do not benefit from the targeted regime. Both provisions seem designed to enact a new central purpose for tax treaties, namely, as peer-monitoring devices to create a world in which cross border capital flows are subject to at least a single level of tax, at a minimum tax rate. This article examines the international precedents for the new provisions and their implications for international tax relations going forward. It concludes with a discussion about the role tax treaties can and should play in curtailing tax competition among nations.
As always I welcome comments; will post a draft when ready.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mitchell. Murphy. Head to Head Nov 3 in Montreal: Corporate Tax on Trial


On Nov 3, there will be a big conference in Montreal on the topic of tax cooperation and competition with presentations by political, business, and academic leaders from around the world; program at the link and I'll post more info soon. A highlight of the day will be a formal debate between Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute and Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK, on the topic of corporate taxation: continue it, change it, abolish it? These two titans will debate three resolutions:
  1. First, be it resolved that: the current approach to corporate taxation is a necessary and appropriate means of raising tax revenue.
  2. Second, be it resolved that: corporate taxation is fundamental to preserve personal taxation.
  3. Third, be it resolved that: To the extent that governments tax corporate income, they should do so comprehensively, and not use tax incentives to favour selected types of investment or commerce.
It likely goes without saying that arguing on the “affirming side” of each resolution will be Richard Murphy; arguing on the “opposing side” of each resolution will be Dan Mitchell; the debaters are free to interpret the resolutions broadly and form their arguments accordingly. Evidence from all jurisdictions will be admissible. The debate will be moderated and judged by two eminent judges: Louise Otis (OECD Admin Tribunal & McGill Law) and Jay Rosengard (Harvard Kennedy School of Business). The emphasis will be on persuasive, clear and logical argumentation. This promises to be a lively debate. Registration information for the conference is here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New government in Canada; new fiscal policy

Canada's federal election unfolded last night with a decisive victory for the Liberal Party under the leadership of Justin Trudeau. Campaign promises include a much needed commitment to transparency, including budgetary "honesty" as outlined in the party's Fiscal Plan. Here are the main promises:

  • cancel child benefit cheques for millionaires, increase child benefits for the middle class & below 
  • increase the marginal tax rate on Canada’s 1%, cut taxes for the middle class
  • review tax expenditures, target tax loopholes that particularly benefit Canada’s 1%. 
  • be honest about the government of Canada’s fiscal position, base projections on Parliamentary Budget Officer report. 
  • run modest deficits for three years, invest in growth for the middle class.
  • offer a plan to balance the budget in 2019.
Here's the revenue picture: 
 


Hmm, I am not seeing any revenue from legalizing & taxing marjuana, suggest Canada take a page from Colorado on this point. I predict the revenue impact will be more than zero.

Will be fascinating to watch how the promises play out IRL.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) as Hybrid Tax Agreements

I recently published "Interpretation or Override? Introducing the Hybrid Tax Agreement." Here is the abstract:
In the effort to overcome foreign law impediments to the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the U.S. Treasury introduced intergovernmental agreements (IGAs). IGAs are hybrid tax agreements: Treaties to most of the world, in the United States they instead constitute an executive interpretation of the underlying tax treaty. This introduces a great deal of interpretive uncertainty where the terms of IGAs and tax treaties conflict. Prompted by recent queries in the EU regarding the legal nature of the IGAs, this article explores a concrete example of the legal principles at stake by examining how the public policy rules for information sharing found in US tax treaties interact with the information exchange provisions found in the IGAs.
Further in, I explain that it is difficult to understand how as a matter of international law the IGA, as a document that purports to "interpret" the underlying tax treaty, in fact obviates some of the provisions of the treaty, but do so only for the party other than the United States. I conclude:
Process matters in law. It is what makes the rule of law function as a legitimate source of authority. It is ironic that even as the United States partners with its fellow OECD members to try to address the major challenges to international taxation posed by hybrid legal entities and hybrid financial instruments, Treasury has invented the hybrid tax agreement. Conflicts resulting from this invention are inevitable and I anticipate they will be costly. I believe that Treasury took a few shortcuts around established legal precedents on the road to implementing FATCA. I understand that this may be considered expedient in the effort to get FATCA to work. But in the long run the sacrifice renders a disservice to the rule of law. That sacrifice deserves careful reflection by all those affected.
I continue to be fascinated by the rapid developments in international taxation over the past several years, in terms of both substance and process/rule of law.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Friends with Tax Benefits: Apple's Cautionary Tale

Over the summer, I wrote a column on the ongoing EU state aid investigation into Ireland's tax practices involving Apple. The recent news that Ireland plans to cut its corporate tax rate again, dropping to just 6.5% for IP-driven companies, reminded me that I neglected to post this article, so here it is. Abstract:
Apple recently disclosed to shareholders a potentially material impairment to its earnings: an ongoing investigation by the European Commission into Ireland’s tax ruling practices. Ireland may be forced to retroactively impose additional taxes on Apple, going back as much as a decade (and possibly beyond), if the Commission decides that the Irish Tax Authority granted Apple a prohibited subsidy, referred to as “fiscal state aid,” in contravention of EU law. But the impact of this investigation may be felt well beyond Europe. Against the backdrop of the OECD’s project on base erosion and profit shifting, the Commission’s investigation about whether Ireland gave Apple unfair benefits is fundamentally an interrogation into what, if anything, governments can or should do to stop the strategic use of national tax systems to lure international trade and investment. The Commission’s inquiry into Apple is thus a cautionary tale for both tax planners and tax authorities, whose confidence in past practices must give way as traditional compromises and well-worn assumptions suddenly become subjects of intense renegotiation on the global stage.
Tax competition and cooperation continue to duke it out: BEPS is one battleground, state aid is another. If in policing internal practices, the EC finds that tax favours like Ireland's are anti-competitive as to other EU countries, then surely they are also anti-competitive as to the rest of the world. Even though the relevant treaty (TFEU) is unique and distinct, the principle that tax favours constitute state aid might open the door for disputes beyond the EU, for example in the context of other bilateral or multilateral trade agreements.

Side note: in writing this column, I compared the successive Apple disclosure statements to watch the language change in response to the EC inquiry, which unfolded as follows:

1st EC letter to Ireland: June 2013
Additional info request: October 2013
Additional info request: January 2014
EC letter informing Ireland of investigation: March 2014.

In the column I suggest we can trace this correspondence in Apple's tax disclosure. Because it was a brief discussion I didn't lay out the disclosure changes in full but here they are (through the time of the column; not updated since), interesting in terms of revealing management's decisions about what shareholders need to know in order to make informed investment choices. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple's share price appears immune to the news to date. It is hard to imagine the size a clawback would need to be in order to have a material impact.

10K Oct 2012, 10Q Jan 2013, 10Q Apr 2013 [identical provisions]
The Company could be subject to changes in its tax rates, the adoption of new U.S. or international tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities. The Company is subject to taxes in the U.S. and numerous foreign jurisdictions. Current economic and political conditions make tax rates in any jurisdiction, including the U.S., subject to significant change. The Company’s future effective tax rates could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in tax laws or their interpretation. The Company is also subject to the examination of its tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities. The Company regularly assesses the likelihood of an adverse outcome resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of its provision for taxes. There can be no assurance as to the outcome of these examinations.

10Q Jul 2013
The Company could be subject to changes in its tax rates, the adoption of new U.S. or international tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities. The Company is subject to taxes in the U.S. and numerous foreign jurisdictions, including Ireland, where a number of the Company’s subsidiaries are organized. Due to economic and political conditions, tax rates in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change. Current economic and political conditions make tax rates in any jurisdiction, including the U.S., subject to significant change.  The Company’s future effective tax rates could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in tax laws or their interpretation, including in the U.S. and Ireland. The Company is also subject to the examination of its tax returns and other tax matters by the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities and governmental bodies. The Company regularly assesses the likelihood of an adverse outcome resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of its provision for taxes. There can be no assurance as to the outcome of these examinations. If the Company’s effective tax rates were to increase, particularly in the U.S. or Ireland, or if the ultimate determination of the Company’s taxes owed is for an amount in excess of amounts previously accrued, the Company’s operating results, cash flows, and financial condition could be adversely affected.

10K Oct 2013, 10Q Jan 2014, 10Q Apr 2014: same as prior

10Q Jul 28 2014
The Company could be subject to changes in its tax rates, the adoption of new U.S. or international tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities. The Company is subject to taxes in the U.S. and numerous foreign jurisdictions, including Ireland, where a number of the Company’s subsidiaries are organized. Due to economic and political conditions, tax rates in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change. The Company’s future effective tax rates could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in tax laws or their interpretation, including in the U.S. and Ireland. For example, in June 2014, the European Commission opened a formal investigation to examine whether decisions by the tax authorities in Ireland with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by two of the Company’s Irish subsidiaries comply with European Union rules on state aid. If the European Commission were to take a final decision against Ireland, it could require changes to existing tax rulings that, in turn, could increase the Company’s taxes in the future. The European Commission could also require Ireland to recover from the Company past taxes reflective of the disallowed state aid.

The Company is also subject to the examination of its tax returns and other tax matters by the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities and governmental bodies. The Company regularly assesses the likelihood of an adverse outcome resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of its provision for taxes. There can be no assurance as to the outcome of these examinations. If the Company’s effective tax rates were to increase, particularly in the U.S. or Ireland, or if the ultimate determination of the Company’s taxes owed is for an amount in excess of amounts previously accrued, the Company’s operating results, cash flows, and financial condition could be adversely affected.

10K Oct 2014: same as prior

10Q Jan 2015
The Company could be subject to changes in its tax rates, the adoption of new U.S. or international tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities. The Company is subject to taxes in the U.S. and numerous foreign jurisdictions, including Ireland, where a number of the Company’s subsidiaries are organized. Due to economic and political conditions, tax rates in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change. The Company’s future effective tax rates could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in tax laws or their interpretation, including in the U.S. and Ireland. For example, in June 2014, the European Commission opened a formal investigation to examine whether decisions by the tax authorities in Ireland with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by two of the Company’s Irish subsidiaries comply with European Union rules on state aid. If the European Commission were to take a final decision against Ireland, it could require changes to existing tax rulings that, in turn, could increase the Company’s taxes in the future. The European Commission could also Ireland to recover from the Company past taxes reflective of the disallowed state aid. The Company is also subject to the examination of its tax returns and other tax matters by the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities and governmental bodies. The Company regularly assesses the likelihood of an adverse outcome resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of its provision for taxes. There can be no assurance as to the outcome of these examinations. If the Company’s effective tax rates were to increase, particularly in the U.S. or Ireland, or if the ultimate determination of the Company’s taxes owed is for an amount in excess of amounts previously accrued, the Company’s operating results, cash flows and financial condition could be adversely affected.

10-Q Apr 28 2015
The Company could be subject to changes in its tax rates, the adoption of new U.S. or international tax legislation or exposure to additional tax liabilities. The Company is subject to taxes in the U.S. and numerous foreign jurisdictions, including Ireland, where a number of the Company’s subsidiaries are organized. Due to economic and political conditions, tax rates in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change. The Company’s future effective tax rates could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in tax laws or their interpretation, including in the U.S. and Ireland. For example, in June 2014, the European Commission opened a formal investigation to examine whether decisions by the tax authorities in Ireland with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by two of the Company’s Irish subsidiaries comply with European Union rules on state aid.

As of March 28, 2015, the Company recorded gross unrecognized tax benefits of $4.6 billion, of which $1.6 billion, if recognized, would affect the Company’s effective tax rate. As of September 27, 2014, the total amount of gross unrecognized tax benefits was $4.0 billion, of which $1.4 billion, if recognized, would have affected the Company’s effective tax rate. The Company’s total gross unrecognized tax benefits are classified as other non-current liabilities in the Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets. The Company had $844 million and $630 million of gross interest and penalties accrued as of March 28, 2015 and September 27, 2014, respectively, which are classified as other non-current liabilities in the Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets. Management believes that an adequate provision has been made for any adjustments that may result from tax examinations. However, the outcome of tax audits cannot be predicted with certainty. If any issues addressed in the Company’s tax audits are resolved in a manner not consistent with management’s expectations, the Company could be required to adjust its provision for income taxes in the period such resolution occurs. Although timing of the resolution and/or closure of audits is not certain, the Company does not believe it is reasonably possible that its unrecognized tax benefits would materially change in the next 12 months. On June 11, 2014, the European Commission issued an opening decision initiating a formal investigation against Ireland for alleged state aid to the Company. The opening decision concerns the allocation of profits for taxation purposes of the Irish branches of two subsidiaries of the Company. The Company believes the European Commission’s assertions are without merit. If the European Commission were to conclude against Ireland, the European Commission could require Ireland to recover from the Company past taxes covering a period of up to 10 years reflective of the disallowed state aid. While such amount could be material, as of March 28, 2015 the Company is unable to estimate the impact.


The Company is also subject to the examination of its tax returns and other tax matters by the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities and governmental bodies. The Company regularly assesses the likelihood of an adverse outcome resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of its provision for taxes. There can be no assurance as to the outcome of these examinations. If the Company’s effective tax rates were to increase, particularly in the U.S. or Ireland, or if the ultimate determination of the Company’s taxes owed is for an amount in excess of amounts previously accrued, the Company’s operating results, cash flows and financial condition could be adversely affected.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kadet on Profit Shifting: The Approach Everyone Forgets

Over the summer, Jeffery Kadet published an article of interest, Attacking Profit Shifting: The Approach Everyone Forgets, in which he argues that the IRS has the ability, as yet not exercised, to attack profit shifting by US-based MNCs using nothing more than the domestic "effectively connected income" rules. Here is the abstract:
In recent years the financial press has turned increasing attention to MNCs that shift income to low taxed jurisdictions overseas in order to avoid US taxation. What’s generally missing from these discussions is any serious focus on possible IRS attacks on these companies, most of which are CFCs. There’s little apparent concern by anyone that the IRS will try to disallow the profit-shifting structures that have moved so much taxable income out of the US and other countries and into low-taxed foreign jurisdictions. 
This is changing. Early this year Caterpillar Inc. in an SEC filing disclosed that the IRS had issued a Revenue Agent’s Report to currently tax certain income earned by one of its Swiss entities. Presumably this is income earned as a result of a certain restructuring conducted in the late 1990s and referred to as the Swiss Tax Strategy when examined in 2014 in hearings held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI). 
The IRS basis for its RAR, as disclosed by Caterpillar, is application of the ‘substance-over-form’ or ‘assignment-of-income’ judicial doctrines. This, however, is not the only approach that the IRS might have chosen to impose taxation on the shifted profits. 
Various Congressional hearing documents, the work of investigative journalists, and other sources (all publicly available) provide evidence that the businesses within some profit-shifting structures continue to be managed and substantially conducted from the U.S. and not from any business locations outside the U.S. Where this is the case, the IRS may have a strong case for imposing direct taxation on the effectively connected income (ECI) of these low-taxed foreign subsidiaries. 
Just the threat of imposing direct taxation may cause many MNCs to consider scaling back their profit shifting and for them and their outside auditors to start worrying about exposure on prior years. If the IRS were to sustain such direct taxation, it would mean: 
• The regular up-to-35% corporate tax, 
• The ‘branch profits tax’ applied at a flat 30% rate (unless lower by treaty), 
• A loss of deductions and credits for any tax year if the foreign corporation has not filed Form 1120-F for that year, and 
• An open statute of limitations on IRS assessment of tax for any tax year if the foreign corporation has never filed a US tax return on Form 1120-F for that year. 
The combined effect of the above is a 54.5% or higher effective tax rate (lower if tax treaty coverage reduces the 30% branch profits tax rate). 
Considering these terribly high effective tax rate percentages, where the IRS chooses to examine for possible ECI and develops a credible case, they can use the high effective tax rate as strong leverage to secure agreement for reversal of profit shifting structures. Such agreements would presumably see MNCs agreeing to current taxation within U.S. group members of the shifted profits that had originally been booked in low-taxed foreign subsidiaries. 
To demonstrate how significant ECI likely exists within many MNCs that have conducted profit-shifting planning, this article includes a number of realistic examples inspired by the above-mentioned publicly available information on MNC profit-shifting structures. 
Recognizing that it can sometimes be a challenge to apply the very old existing regulations to current business models, the article strongly encourages Treasury to prioritize the issuance of modernized income sourcing and ECI regulations that reflect the business models and structures now commonly used and that are often found in profit-shifting structures.

Cockfield: Big Data and Tax Haven Secrecy

Art Cockfield has posted a new paper on SSRN, Big Data and Tax Haven Secrecy, forthcoming Florida Tax Review. The article sets out research he did with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and is of interest. Here is the abstract:
While there is now a significant literature in law, politics, economics, and other disciplines that examines tax havens, there is little information on what tax haven intermediaries — so-called offshore service providers — actually do to facilitate offshore evasion, international money laundering and the financing of global terrorism. To provide insight into this secret world of tax havens, this Article relies on the author’s study of big data derived from the financial data leak obtained by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). A hypothetical involving Breaking Bad’s Walter White is used to explain how offshore service providers facilitate global financial crimes. The Article deploys a transaction cost perspective to assist in understanding the information and incentive problems revealed by the ICIJ data leak, including how tax haven secrecy enables elites in non-democratic countries to transfer their monies for ultimate investment in stable democratic countries. The approach also emphasizes how, even in a world of perfect information, political incentives persist that thwart cooperative efforts to inhibit global financial crimes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Taxation and Citizenship Workshop at U Michigan

This week at the University of Michigan Law School, Reuven Avi-Yonah and I are co-hosting an academic workshop on the topic of citizenship and taxation. Because it is a workshop, most of the papers are still in draft and won't be publicly available for some time. However, we will be doing a writeup of the proceedings and I'll post that when it is available, and of course I'll post when the symposium volume is published. Here are the speakers and topics:

  • Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) Constructive Unilateralism : US Leadership and International Taxation 
  • Allison Christians (McGill) Uncle Sam Wants … Who? 
  • Wei Cui (UBC) Residence and Source as Interconnected Concepts 
  • Tessa Davis (South Carolina) Of Tax Crimes and “Bad” Citizens: How the Role of Tax Law in Making a Citizen Informs Tax Law and Policy 
  • Jane Frecknall-Hughes (Hull) Tax and the citizen: the philosophical underpinnings 
  • Christine Harlen (Leeds) Making America Exceptional: Perfectionist Civic Republicanism and the Taxation of Americans Abroad in the Progressive Era, 1890-1920 
  • Michael Kirsch (Notre Dame) The Taxation (or Non-Taxation) of Citizens’ Foreign Income: Distilling the Competing Normative Arguments 
  • Sagit Leviner (Ono) Citizenship Transcendent 
  • Patrick Martin (Procopio) Tax Simplification: The Need for Consistent Tax Treatment of All Individuals (Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and Non-Citizens regardless of immigrant status) Residing Overseas, Including the Repeal of U.S. Citizenship Based Taxation 
  • Ruth Mason (Virginia) Citizenship Taxation 
  • Linneu Mello (Bichara) How the Brazilian Tax Authorities Control Information and What FATCA Has To Do With It 
  • Henry Ordower (St. Louis) Is the Expatriation Tax Constitutional? Mark to Market and the Macomber Conundrum 
  • Adam Rosenzweig (Washington St. Louis) Once a US Person, Always a US Person 
  • Daniel Shaviro (NYU) Taxing Potential Community Members’ Foreign Source Income 
  • Peter Spiro (Temple) Citizenship Overreach and the U.S. Tax Regime 
  • Saul Templeton (Calgary) Bill C-51, FATCA, and the End of Taxpayer Privacy 
  • Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo) The Problems of Defining Residence: The U.S. Experience
Student Panel

  • Montano Cabezas (Georgetown) Reasons for Citizenship-Based Taxation? 
  • Christine Kim (NYU) Considering “Citizenship Taxation” : In Defense of FATCA 
  • Gene Magidenko (UMich) – A Defense of Citizenship Taxation 
  • Gianluca Mazzoni (Brescia) The Interaction Between FATCA and Data Privacy 
  • Miguel Nicolas (UParis) FATCA and International Law 
The range of topics and viewpoints represented is encouraging and I look forward to the discussion.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Today at McGill: Steven Dean on Taxing Social Enterprise

The Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium at McGill University continues today with a presentation by Steven Dean on “SE(c)(3): A Catalyst for Social Enterprise Crowdfunding.” This event is presented in conjunction with a collaborative project between the Stikeman Chair in Taxation and the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy at McGill Law on the topic of how regulation impacts innovation. In the paper, Prof. Dean proposes a novel tax regime that offers entrepreneurs and investors committed to combining financial returns and social good with a means of broadcasting that resolve and screening out "greenwashed" ventures.

This year's colloquium focuses on the fundamentals of corporate tax policy by critically examining issues in national and international tax policy. Today's talk will take place from 14:30-17:30pm in Room 202 of New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Ave, Montreal. Students, faculty and the McGill community in Montreal are welcome to attend.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Latest Update in Canada FATCA IGA litigation

The Federal Court of Canada (Martineau J.) issued a decision in the Canadian FATCA IGA litigation on September 16, ruling against the plaintiffs by finding that the provisions of the IGA are duly enacted law, thus clearing the way for the Canadian tax authorities to furnish information to the United States. You can read the decision here.  Today, the Plaintiffs made a motion for an interlocutory injunction pending appeal of the decision.

Because of my role as an expert witness I will abstain from detailed comments other than to stand by my submissions, but I do note the overwhelming sense of judicial impotence expressed in the September 16 decision. The decision notes that the issues at stake involve injustice at the individual level as well as harsh dealings in terms of sovereign relations. As to the former, the legality of the regime is given as its justification, while the latter are deemed inappropriate matters for judicial intervention. Instead the plaintiffs are directed to seek redress for the personal effects of these circumstances though political and administrative channels.

In my view it was political malfunction in both the US and Canada that brought forth FATCA and then the FATCA IGA, and that FATCA as applied can be summed up in terms of administration as a case of continuous indifference to individuals who are wrongdoers in no real sense yet bear the brunt of severe punishments meant for others. If the judiciary is also not to blame and not to fix, then it seems there is no avenue to right the wrongs of FATCA anywhere. I hope that is not the case.

In any event, two days after the decision was released, the IRS announced another delay in FATCA, this time for Model 1 IGA countries. Model 1 IGA countries involve government-to-government sharing, as compared to Model 2, under which financial institutions directly report to the IRS pursuant to authority granted by their home governments. Canada has a Model 1 IGA so it could delay furnishing information to the United States if it notifies the IRS before September 30, 2015 "and provides assurance that the jurisdiction is making good faith efforts to exchange the information as soon as possible." There have been some efforts to compel the Canadian government to avail itself of this option (see, e.g., here and here), but I am not sure how to monitor the government's response.

More to come as events unfold.





Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium at McGill Law

McGill Law's annual Speigel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium kicks off today with a presentation by Roseanne Altshuler on the viability of a switch from worldwide to territorial corporate taxation in the United States. This year's colloquium will focus on the fundamentals of corporate tax policy by critically examining issues in national and international tax policy. Today's talk will take place from 14:30-17:30pm in Room 202 of New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Ave, Montreal. Students, faculty and the McGill community in Montreal are welcome to attend.

Here is the colloquium line-up for the fall:

Monday, September 28: Rosanne Altshuler

Rosanne Altshuler is Dean of Social and Behavioral Science and a Professor of Economics at Rutgers University. She was the Chair of the Department of Economics at Rutgers from 2011 to 2015. She has written widely on federal tax policy, including her most recent article “Lessons the United States Can Learn from Other Countries’ Territorial Systems for Taxing Income of Multinational Corporations.”

Monday, October 5: Steven Dean

Steven Dean is a Professor at Brooklyn Law School and a specialist in tax law. His research addresses a range of tax and budgetary issues, including unconventional solutions to problems such as tax havens, regulatory complexity and tax shelters. His recent article, “Tax Deregulation,” considered the surprising implications of enhancing taxpayer autonomy.

Monday, November 2: Richard Murphy

Richard Murphy is a chartered accountant and economist. He is the founder of the Tax Justice Network and the director of Tax Research LLP, which undertakes work on tax policy, advocacy and research. Mr. Murphy is the co-author of several publications on tax policy, including his most recent book, “Over Here and Undertaxed: Multinationals, Tax Avoidance and You.”

Tuesday, November 10: Daniel N. Shaviro

Daniel Shaviro is a Professor of Taxation at the New York University School of Law. Professor Shaviro has written several books examining tax policy, budget policy and entitlements issues. His most recent book, “Fixing US International Taxation,” offers an analytical framework for international tax policy that sidesteps the standard worldwide taxation vs. territorial taxation framework.

Monday, November 23: Kim Brooks

Kim Brooks is Dean and Weldon Professor of Law at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University. Dean Brooks’ research focuses on corporate and international tax law and policy. She focuses on using a discrete area of tax law to understand a larger tax concept, and using the tax system to promote international economic justice. Dean Brooks has written widely on tax treaties and international taxation, including her recent chapter, “The Troubling Role of Tax Treaties” in the volume 51 of “Tax Design Issues Worldwide: A Series on International Taxation.”

Monday, November 30: Albert Baker

Albert Baker is the Global Leader in Tax Policy at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he specializes in international tax, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate financing and corporate reorganizations. His recent research focuses on base erosion & profit shifting, a project to address concerns that current international tax frameworks result in double non-taxation, or stateless income, or reducing the tax base in high tax countries.

The Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium has been made possible by a generous grant from the law firm Spiegel Sohmer, Inc., Montreal, for the purpose of fostering an academic community in which learning and scholarship may flourish. I am delighted to welcome these distinguished guests and look forward to today's discussion.