On Saturday 10 September, I presented a short paper, Substitutable Tax Shields, at the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime. The 8 day Symposium brings together academics, government officials, judges, lawyers and professionals from across the globe, providing a unique opportunity to bring ranging perspectives to a wide array of issues in Economic Crime. The theme of the Symposium was "Where does the buck stop", and the panel I participated in was provocatively titled "The Criminalisation of Tax Avoidance". This panel included scholars in law and sociology as well as practitioners from the US Department of Justice and the OECD.
My paper, Substitutable Tax Shields, uses economic tools to consider the substitution between two popular tax shields, the use of leverage and the use of offshore centres to store intellectual property. The former is generally not considered to be as nefarious as the latter, though the immediate fiscal consequences of the two shields can be very similar. That being said, the wider economic effects of the use of the two shields are very different, these wider costs as well as the substitutability of the two shields makes it difficult to calculate Tax Gap type estimates of the fiscal costs of these tax shields. Watch this space for a discussion paper version of the paper or link to the published version when available.