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Taxation and Trust: Legitimizing Redistributive Tax Policies

Took place from 6 to 8 May 2015 in cooperation with Antwerp Tax Academy/University of Antwerp (Prof. Dr. Willem Lemmens, Prof. Dr. Bruno Peeters, Prof. Dr. Luc Van Liedekerke); em. Prof. Dr. Guido Dierickx; Prof. Dr. Raf Geenens; Prof. Dr. Gerlinde Verbist.

Prof. Dr. Erich Kirchler (download the presentation) and Prof. Dr. Allison Christians (download the presentation) gave public lectures on 6 May.

The foundation of the taxation system in democracies is the trust of the public that taxes have been equitably levied and will be efficiently and effectively used to support collective facilities that also benefit the tax payer. The debate on the ‘tax shift’ is emblematic for the diminished legitimacy of national tax systems and unfulfilled expectations regarding a just or economically efficient distribution of burdens and benefits between persons, companies, income categories or taxable events.

The workshop examined this challenge from various scientific angles such as tax law, economics, philosophy or psychology from the successive viewpoints of the individual (tax evasion and the nature of the relationship between citizen and administration), the polis (choice of the most appropriate taxable events and tariff schemes for preconceived targets), the authorities (the potential and capacity to bear an efficient and effective tax system) as well as the multinational company that slaloms between national tax regimes to dodge or ‘legally optimise’ taxes. The participating scholars presented their – partially empirical – research on taxes and shifting cultural, political and philosophical values and foundations. Policy experts confronted these scholarly findings with their professional experience. More explicitly, the feasibility of a global system to monitor income flows and stocks of wealth or of worldwide tax levying was tested against regimes of transparency and soft-law that are already in place with organisations such as the European Union, the OECD or the ILO.

The findings of this workshop were published in the book Building Trust in Taxation (Intersentia, 2017).

CONTRIBUTORS: Allison Christians (McGill University, Québec), Guido Dierickx (University of Antwerp), Raf Geenens (KU Leuven), J.L.M. Gribnau (universities of Leiden and Tilburg), Erich Kirchler (University of Vienna), Willem Lemmens (University of Antwerp), Bruno Peeters (University of Antwerp), Cees Peeters (Tilburg University), Paola Profeta (Università Bocconi, Milaan), Luc Van Liedekerke (University of Antwerp), Gerlinde Verbist (University of Antwerp).