Tax, Inequality, and Human Rights




As the Addis Tax Initiative meetings end in Berlin, Brookings publishes a book titled Tax, Inequality, and Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2019).

Edited by Philip Alston and Nikki Reisch, Tax, Inequality, and Human Rights gathers 25 articles under six main domains:

  • The Relevance of Human Rights to Tax Law, Policy, and Practice
  • Tax Abuse in Global Perspective: Cross-Border Dimensions and International Response
  • The Responsibilities of Governments: The Case of Transparency
  • Private Actors and the Public Purse: The Roles of Corporations, Lawyers, and Accountants in Tax Abuse
  • Taxing Equality: National Debates
  • Bringing Fiscal Policy and Social Rights Together

“This publication is of great value, says Dereje Alemayehu, Executive Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, because it shows the inadequacy of “raising the tax/GDP ratio” as a benchmark for successful Domestic Resource Mobilisation (DRM). The tax/GDP ratio could also be raised by means of regressive taxation, i.e. by lowering taxes on the rich and Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and enormously raising direct and indirect taxes on the poor. Simply raising the tax take without equity considerations can thus do more harm than good.

Secondly, it also shows the inadequacy of an exclusive focus on “capacity building of revenue authorities in developing countries” to raise DRM. This focus is probably serving as an alibi to justify the inaction to address constraints and blockages to enhance DRM at the country level emanating from the international context. It has been repeatedly stated and is now a widely accepted fact that developing countries cannot curtail illicit financial flows (IFFs) and tax dodging without international cooperation. And, curtailing IFFs and tax dodging is one of the major avenues to enhance DRM”.


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