The international tax system is the result of the interaction of different actors who share the responsibility for its integrity. States and multinational corporations both enjoy to a certain extent freedom of choice with regard to their tax behaviour – which entails moral responsibility. Making, interpreting and using tax rules therefore is inevitably a matter of exercising responsibility. Both should abstain from viewing tax laws as a bunch of technical rules to be used as a tool without any intrinsic moral or legal value. States bear primary responsibility for the integrity of the international tax system. They should become more reticent in their use of tax as regulatory instrument – competing with one another for multinationals’ investment. They should also act more responsibly by cooperating to make better rules to prevent aggressive tax planning, which entails a shift in tax payments from very expert taxpayers to other taxpayers. Here, the distributive justice of the tax system and a level playing field should be guaranteed. Multinationals should abstain from putting pressure on states and lobbying for favourable tax rules that disproportionally affect other taxpayers – SMEs and individual taxpayers alike. Multinationals and their tax advisers should avoid irresponsible conduct by not aiming to pay a minimalist amount of (corporate income) taxes – merely staying within the boundaries of the letter of the law. Especially CSR-corporations should assume the responsibility for the integrity of the tax system.
- international tax law, flawed legislation; tax privileges; tax planning; corporate social responsibility; tax professionals, BEPS