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2014 Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium

The Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium has been made possible by a generous grant from the law firm Spiegel Sohmer, Inc., for the purpose of fostering an academic community in which learning and scholarship may flourish.

This fall, in its inaugural installment, the Colloquium will return to fundamentals by critically examining the goals of taxation from a law and philosophy perspective. The Colloquium will therefore be convened jointly by Allison Christians, H. Heward Stikeman Chair in Taxation Law, and Daniel Weinstock, James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Law and Director of the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy.

Each talk takes place in the Seminar Room of the Institute for Health and Social Policy, Charles Meredith House, 1130 Pine Ave., Montreal. Students, faculty and general public welcome.

Monday, October 6: Wayne Norman: Corporate Tax and Beyond-Compliance Norms

Using the media's recent coverage of Apple's tax avoidance strategies as a case study, Professor Norman will discuss how we ought to understand and rationalize corporate social responsibility and self-regulation norms emerging around the taxation of multinationals, and whether these rationalizations are, or should be, different than the rationalization of corporate tax regulation.

Wayne Norman is Mike and Ruth Mackowski Professor of Ethics in the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Department of Philosophy at Duke University. His work focuses on business ethics and his published work includes numerous books and journal articles, as well as contributions to “Ethics for Adversaries: How to Play Fair When You’re Playing to Win.”

Monday, October 20: Joseph Heath: Taxation as collective consumption

Joseph Heath is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto, as well as Director of the University of Toronto Centre for Ethics. He has published work very widely including the recent book "Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy, and Our Lives."

Monday, October 27: Patrick Turmel

Patrick Turmel is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Laval University, where his work focuses on ethics and political institutions, particularly cities.

His numerous publications include co-authorship of a book titled “La Juste Part. Repenser les Inégalités, la Richesse et la Fabrication des Grille-Pains.”

Monday, November 10: Martin O’Neill

Martin O’Neill is Senior Lecturer in Moral and Political Philosophy in the Department of Politics at the University of York, United Kingdom. His research examines global and intergenerational justice. Among his many publications, Professor O’Neill’s most recent book is “Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond.”

Monday, November 17: Peter Dietsch: Catching Capital

When individuals stash away their wealth in offshore bank accounts and multinational corporations shift their profits or their actual production to low-tax jurisdictions, this undermines the fiscal autonomy of political communities and contributes to rising inequalities in income and wealth. These practices are fuelled by tax competition, with countries strategically designing fiscal policy to attract capital from abroad

Building on a careful analysis of the ethical challenges raised by a world of tax competition, the book puts forward a normative and institutional framework to regulate the practice. In short, individuals and corporations should pay tax in the jurisdictions of which they are members, where this membership can come in degrees. Moreover, the strategic tax setting of states should be limited in important ways. An International Tax Organisation (ITO) should be created to enforce the principles of tax justice.

The author defends this call for reform against two important objections. First, Dietsch refutes the suggestion that regulating tax competition will harm economic efficiency. Second, he argues that regulation of this sort, rather than representing a constraint on national sovereignty, in fact turns out to be a requirement of sovereignty in a global economy. The book closes with a series of reflections on the obligations that the beneficiaries of tax competition have towards the losers both prior to any institutional reform and in its aftermath.

Peter Dietsch is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the Université de Montréal, where  he works on questions of distributive justice with particular emphasis on the application of philosophical theories through social instruments including the tax system. His work is widely published, including a recent article titled “Tax Competition and Global Background Justice” in The Journal of Political Philosophy. He is also working on a book on tax competition entitled “Catching Capital”.


Tax Justice and Human Rights Research Collaboration Symposium, 18-20 June 2014

The symposium brought together students, academic researchers, and tax justice advocates and activists to collaborate on the topic of tax justice: what is it, how is tax connected to human rights or how could it be, and what research needs to be done to further this emerging field? See the Call for papers and the Symposium page.


Foreign Account Tax Information Act (FATCA), March 16, 2014

An information session on how the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) impacts Canadians. The session was geared toward those with US status and discussed issues of disclosure, compliance, and other obligations raised by this legislation. On the subject of FATCA, listen to the McGill Law Journal podcast with Prof. Christians - "FATCA incoming" (Feb 2014)