Business, Civil Society and the ‘New’ Politics of Corporate Tax Justice
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Business, Civil Society and the ‘New’ Politics of Corporate Tax Justice

Paying a Fair Share?

Edited by Richard Eccleston and Ainsley Elbra

Since the financial crisis the extent of corporate tax avoidance has attracted media headlines and the attention of political leaders the world over. This study examines the ‘new’ politics of corporate taxation and the role of civil society organisations in shaping the international tax agenda and influencing the tax practices of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations. It highlights the complex and multi-dimensional strategies used by activists to influence public opinion, formal regulation and corporate behaviour in relation to international taxation.
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Chapter 3: Activism and the ‘new’ politics of tax justice

Ainsley Elbra

Abstract

The ongoing effects of the Financial Crisis (FC) of 2008–09 have led to widespread debate about the fairness of the global capitalist system. One important arena in which this debate has been played out is global corporate taxation, where a new politics of corporate taxation has emerged. This chapter, which discusses transnational activist networks, tax justice NGOs, and governments, explores the roles of these actors in raising the salience of corporate tax avoidance in the minds of ordinary voters and politicians alike. It is argued here that, prior to the FC, the most significant sources of non-governmental influence over global tax regulation were tax practitioners and business actors. After the FC, however, the politics and discourses of austerity and the budgetary challenges faced by governments opened the field of multinational corporate tax regulation to a much wider range of actors, and piqued public awareness and resentment of corporate tax avoidance. Tying these findings together, this chapter describes the new politics of corporate taxation and argues that it has created the potential for new forms of governance in this arena, including voluntary and private governance – possibilities explored elsewhere in this volume.

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