The Vagueness of Tax Fairness: A Discursive Analysis of the Commission’s ‘Fair Tax Agenda’

Alice Pirlot, The Vagueness of Tax Fairness: A Discursive Analysis of the Commission’s ‘Fair Tax Agenda’ (2020) 48(4) Intertax, pp. 402-415.

14 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2020

See all articles by Alice Pirlot

Alice Pirlot

University of Oxford - Said Business School; Catholic University of Louvain (UCL)

Date Written: April 1, 2020

Abstract

Unless treaties are read in very liberal terms, the European Union (EU) is not competent for defining the construct of a fair tax system and determining who should pay taxes and in which proportion within the European Union. Yet, the European Commission has increasingly been using references to tax fairness in its tax policy discourse. This raises questions on the future of EU tax law, the commission’s role in responding to European citizens’ concerns, and achieving tax fairness.

By exploring six case studies, this contribution argues that the commission’s narrative on tax fairness remains vague and ambiguous which might indicate that it is not taking tax fairness – as a procedural and/or distributive issue – seriously. The commission uses fairness somewhat loosely to cover three main types of objectives including trade objectives that differ from what has traditionally been linked to tax fairness in the political philosophy literature. Building upon the work of legal scholars and economists, this article then concludes that the commission’s ‘fair tax’ agenda will, at best, achieve objectives in terms of procedural fairness.

Note: “Reprinted from Intertax, volume 48, issue 4, April 2020, with permission of Kluwer Law International.”

Keywords: Tax fairness, EU fair tax agenda, fair share, fair trade, fair competition, level playing field, social fairness, distributive justice, procedural justice

Suggested Citation

Pirlot, Alice, The Vagueness of Tax Fairness: A Discursive Analysis of the Commission’s ‘Fair Tax Agenda’ (April 1, 2020). Alice Pirlot, The Vagueness of Tax Fairness: A Discursive Analysis of the Commission’s ‘Fair Tax Agenda’ (2020) 48(4) Intertax, pp. 402-415., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3669119

Alice Pirlot (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) ( email )

Place Montesquieu, 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348
Belgium

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