Chapter 13: The Political Science of Global Tax Governance - Research Handbook on International Taxation

This chapter provides a review of the political science literature on the international tax regime. First, we distinguish between (1) interest- and (2) power-based, as well as (3) institutionalist and (4) ideational accounts.

We show how all four theoretical perspectives contribute to explaining the institutional design, development over time and policy outcomes of global tax governance. Second, we argue that states navigate within the trilemma of (1) avoiding double taxation, (2) avoiding double non-taxation and (3) maintaining national tax sovereignty.

Using the trilemma to distinguish three historic periods – foundation, stability and reform – we discuss the political determinants, history and current challenges of global tax governance. We argue that legal scholarship can gain important insights from the consciously theory-grounded accounts of political scientists.


Martin Hearson

Martin Hearson is a Research Fellow at IDS, co-Research Director of the ICTD and the International Tax programme lead. His research focuses on the politics of international business taxation, and in particular the relationship between developed and developing countries. Before joining ICTD, Martin was a fellow in international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, teaching courses on political economy and global financial governance.

Thomas Rixen