by Diane Ring
A dominant theme of international taxation over the past 15 years has been that of cooperation and consensus—from the BEPS Project to the new Multilateral Instrument to the new BEPS Inclusive Framework. Regardless of one’s assessment of nations’ true commitments to such cooperation and consensus, it is clear that notable changes in the framework of international tax engagement are afoot.
Yet, countries themselves remain very different in terms of the wealth, GDP, natural resources, tax revenues, commercial base, infrastructure, technological capacity, and financial systems. It is not obvious that cooperation and consensus are uniformly in countries’ interests, particularly in light of who is drafting the agenda. Most pointedly, it is reasonable to ask why non-OECD, non-G20 countries would be willing to commit to global tax cooperation.
In a new empirical paper, “World Tax Policy in the World Tax Polity? An Event History Analysis of OECD/G20 BEPS Inclusive Framework Membership,” Shu-Yi Oei tackles this question by studying the OECD/BEPS Inclusive Framework, which currently has a total of 140 member states, of which 96 are non-OECD, non-G20 countries. Using event history regression methods, Oei seeks to answer the question of how these states came to join the Inclusive Framework. She posits a series of hypotheses regarding membership drivers and tests them against a new database that she has constructed. In a paper that is accessible to both international tax policy makers and empiricists, Oei provides a compelling answer to the question. Not surprisingly, the actions and initiatives of international organizations and blocs play a the significant role in the story. In fact, many of the findings prove consistent with earlier work that Oei and I have written (both separately and together) including analyses of international relations dynamics in international tax, the scope of actors shaping international tax policy, the potential for disjuncture between international agreement and domestic action, the potential influence of nonstate actors, and the ability of powerful states to draw other nations into specific tax policy choices. Oei’s new empirical paper propels this research agenda forward by allowing greater insight into the world of international tax.