Postdoc project on Tax Law and Human Rights - The economic and legal need to safeguard legal certainty in international tax law

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Susi Baerentzen


International Bureau for Fiscal Documentation


DKK 700,000




Internationalisation Fellowships


The project is about the protection of taxpayers' rights in international tax law. One of the greatest paradoxes of modern international tax law is the ambivalence of the EU and the OECD towards establishing a minimum protection of taxpayers' rights. In recent years, there has been an unprecedented internationalization of tax law, flanked by a high level of uncertainty about the interpretation of the rules. This tendency has been driven by the legitimate interest of States in the fight against tax abuse in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. This project analyzes the principle of legal certainty as a principle of economic efficiency in order to ascertain whether such a principle, as it is safeguarded at an EU-level, could work in international tax law to ensure taxpayers' rights.


Taxpayers are not merely objects, they are holders of rights. This project builds on the hypothesis that international coordination to fight tax abuse must be accompanied by effective protection of the taxpayers' rights through a global minimum standard. The financial crisis in 2008 pushed the issue of international taxation up the agenda and propelled an international coordination for strengthening the rules guarding corporate income tax. The next challenge to make this new system sustainable is to strike a balance between new, enforced rules and legal certainty to avoid adverse legal and economic consequences from too much uncertainty. This project provides a much needed analysis on how to strike this balance in practice, and the potential economic and legal upsides of doing so.


The research is carried out at the International Bureau for Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) in Amsterdam, which is an independent research foundation dealing exclusively with international tax law. The IBFD contains the world's most extensive collection of tax literature and data about the rules and rates of taxation globally. This institution and its experts will provide the required materials and sounding boards for the research. The outcome will be a series of articles and ultimately at least one larger conference and a textbook to finalize the project. In the long term, it is expected that this research will provide an important foundation for the continued research on taxpayer's rights at a Danish level as well.

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