Workshop on International Tax Competition and Financial Secrecy

In November 27-28, 2014, I will welcome some of the most well known researchers on international tax competition and financial secrecy for a workshop at the University of St. Gallen.

Recent years have witnessed tremendous changes in the field of international tax competition and financial secrecy. For instance, the OECD is close to a breakthrough with its project to extend the model agreement to include the automatic exchange of information in tax matters, while countries such as Luxembourg and Switzerland have committed to accept this new model agreement if it is made a global standard. In parallel, the OECD has been pushing forward the international debate on corporate taxation and transfer pricing, while the EU has begun to revise its Tax Savings Directive to close loopholes that reduce tax income based on savings-generated income and to extend automatic exchange of information to the remaining holdouts.

After many commentators had been rather pessimistic about the prospects of international cooperation in the field of taxation, this sudden wave of regulatory activity raises a series of important questions concerning the politics of international tax competition and financial secrecy. Such questions include: What made countries such as Liechtenstein and Austria give up their decades-long resistance against calls for more transparency? What role did multilateral action by the OECD or the G20 play? How did these actors overcome the collective action problems that have hampered previous attempts to regulate international tax competition? How important has blacklisting been in this process? To what extent will the automatic exchange of information be extended to developing countries? Are we witnessing the end of tax havens or is the caravan simply moving on to new offshore financial centers? What role did leadership by the USA play? Will the USA continue to resist calls for more transparency in case of incorporation services? And are recent regulatory activities really changing international tax competition or are we simply witnessing a sophisticated exercise in window-dressing?

This workshop will bring together leading international experts on the politics of tax competition and financial secrecy to discuss these highly important questions and to expand our understanding of this crucial field of global economic governance.