Norms, Coercion and Contracting in the Struggle against ‘Harmful’ Tax Competition
The world's richest and most powerful countries have become increasingly concerned about revenue lost to tax havens, and fear that tax competition might spark a fiscal 'race to the bottom', yet they have failed to pressure much smaller and weaker tax haven states into reform. This article argues that the OECD-sponsored campaign against 'harmful' tax competition has been unsuccessful because regulative norms have severely constrained the means legitimately able to be employed. Early decisions on how the campaign was designed subsequently brought norms into play which have not only ruled out the use of coercion, but also the use of side payments, despite the massive potential benefits available to both sides from a deal between tax havens and OECD states. The failure to strike a deal cannot be explained by high transaction costs nor by corporate lobbying in defence of tax shelters. Regulative norms can thus affect economic bargaining in the international arena by preventing mutually advantageous exchanges that are nevertheless regarded as inappropriate.
Australian Journal of International Affairs