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International Tax

The Europeanization of Good Tax Governance

January 21, 2018
Paris, France, by Tasi Zoltán via Unsplash

Christiana HJI Panayi of Queen Mary University has a new paper out on tax governance in the European Union. The paper looks at how the concept of good tax governance has developed internationally with a special focus on the interplay of tax governance standards and the E.U.’s fair tax competition rules.


“This is a unique era where the international tax community, most vocally represented by developed countries mainly through the OECD/G20, is engaged in a global fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance. It is thought that lack of tax cooperation increases the risk of cross-border tax evasion and avoidance. The recalcitrance shown by some countries to engage in deeper cooperation is something that is widely criticized. However, apart from the traditional notions of cooperation/assistance and exchange of information commonly viewed as instrumental in the fight against tax evasion/avoidance, another concept has emerged—that of good tax governance or tax good governance or fiscal good governance.

Countries are increasingly being asked to adopt standards of tax good governance either on a stand-alone basis or in the context of the fight against tax avoidance and evasion, without a common understanding of what this concept actually entails. Notwithstanding the uncertainties surrounding good tax governance, it is acquiring increasing importance and institutional backing, both internationally and within the European Union (EU). This paper examines how this concept has been received and developed internationally and especially in the context of the EU.

From an international perspective, it is shown that there are many facets of good tax governance and it is not always clear what the term actually covers. For international organizations such as the OECD and the UN, the focus is on developing countries and certain state functions such as domestic resource mobilization and capacity building. In a wider context, the focus also seems to be on the relationship between governments and their ability to (automatically) exchange some types of information and ensure transparency. To a lesser extent, the focus is also on the relationship between governments and taxpayers through regimes of enhanced cooperation between tax authorities and some taxpayers. The author considers the soft law initiatives that have been taken in these areas and examines how some of these initiatives are gradually morphing into hard law.

In the second half of this article, the author examines the development of the concept of good tax governance in the EU context. Here, it is shown that although the EU was more precise as regards the definition of this concept (at least in the early stages of its evolution), by linking the concept of good tax governance with fair tax competition this has enabled the Commission to inject a great amount of subjectivity in this area. Furthermore, by including the exchange of information and later on BEPS standards in the definition of this concept, this facilitated the Commission’s more expansionist agenda both internally and externally. The author assesses the implications of what she calls the Europeanization of good tax governance—or good tax governance à la Européenne—and the problems that this creates in so far as the global development of the concept is concerned.”

More: Christiana HJI Panayi, “The Europeanization of Good Tax Governance,” Yearbook of European Law, vol. 1, January 2018.

Photo: Tasi Zoltán

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