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What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Tax Justice?

What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Tax Justice?

January 2024 | 152 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This book lays out what we know about the scale, history and impacts of tax abuse. From profit-shifting by multinational corporations to the exploitation of offshore tax havens. It sheds light on the people and organisations that enable tax abuse, and the stark social inequalities it creates.

Crucially, it also explores what we can do about it. What are the practical realities of challenging the threats of tax injustice and of holding abusers accountable? What are the policies and institutional shifts we need to see and fight for?

It is estimated that cross-border tax abuse accounts for around half a trillion dollars of lost revenue around the world each year. This is important. Alex Cobham shows us that tax is more than just business regulation or economic policy. It is a powerful tool for creating a fair and just society. It is our social superpower.

Alex Cobham is an economist and chief executive of Tax Justice Network.

The ‘What Do We Know and What Should We Do About...?' series offers readers short, up-to-date overviews of key issues often misrepresented, simplified or misunderstood in modern society and the media. Each book is written by a leading social scientist with an established reputation in the relevant subject area. 

"Short, sharp and compelling." - Alex Preston, The Observer

"If you want to learn a lot about what matters most, in as short a time as possible, this is the series for you." - Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford

What do we know about tax (in)justice?
What should we do to achieve tax justice?

Overall this book covers a good deal of ground, summarising the authors work, in both the academic field as well as in practice and in understanding the relationship between firms and governments. It also for example highlights the unequal nature of the bargaining arrangements between firms and tax authorities, and the need, for reasons discussed above to end secrecy, not only at the level of the firm, but from banks, and also (typically big 4) auditors and the advice they give on tax avoidance.
Overall therefore, Cobham provides an excellent, thought provoking overview of these issues, with many examples that even the casual reader would find interesting.

Professor Nigel Driffield
University of Warwick

Cobham's analysis unveils compelling dimensions of tax justice, supported by insightful data seamlessly presented in charts and tables. The book transcends its initial goal of offering “a guided tour of the issues and evidence”, evolving into a profound exploration of the interconnected realms of taxation, justice, and development. Through this exploration, readers gain a profound understanding of the evolving landscape of contemporary taxation systems and their contradictory impacts at both domestic and international contexts.

What emerges unequivocally is the book's plea for urgent reform as a prerequisite for achieving social justice. The narrative deftly underscores the pressing need to address the inequities perpetuated by the abuse of tax systems, both within nations and amongst them, emphasizing the imperative role of fair tax policies in meeting the basic needs of citizens across the spectrum of economic disparities.

In adhering to the standards of the "What Do We Know and What Should We Do About...?" series, the book achieves its objective of providing a concise, up-to-date overview of a critical issue. But the book not only informs, it also calls for action in the face of the contemporary challenges posed by the evolving landscape of taxation and its implications for global social justice.

Dr Iyabo Masha
Director and Head of Secretariat, G24

Alex Cobham's latest book is a beacon of clarity and hope in a critical period for global tax reform. International tax policy deeply impacts every global citizen, yet discussions on the matter remain far removed from the public eye, dominated by a select group of 'experts’. This excellent work not only introduces us to the movement for tax justice, seeking a fairer system of international taxation, but also outlines its key battles, victories, and ongoing challenges in an exceptionally accessible manner. What makes this book stand out is its ability to bring the discourse on tax justice closer to the general public. With its straightforward, well-crafted prose free of jargon, Cobham demonstrates how taxation transcends expert domains to become, fundamentally, a political issue. Furthermore, the book's utilization of mnemonic techniques, akin to Cobham's pioneering use of the 4Rs, which has since become widely adopted, proves invaluable also for experts looking to distill ideas and clarify concepts. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to understand international tax justice issues.

María Fernanda Valdés
Deputy Minister of Finance of Colombia, Ministerio de Hacienda

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