Companies’ fair share of tax – reasonable and realizable?

The project is funded by the WTS Group AG Steuerberatungsgesellschaft. It started on 1 April 2019 and ends after three years. Project staff is Anna-Lena Scherer (M.Sc.)

Subject of the project is the question whether we do have reasons to hold companies responsible for paying their fair share of taxes. Since we can support this from a utilitarian approach as well as from a framework according to John Rawls and contractual rights concepts, the answer to this question seems obvious from an ethical perspective. The same is true for the perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that also evaluates tax avoidance as irresponsible. According to the spirit of the law, paying taxes is a firm’s duty. However, this result conflicts with mainstream economic theory and the policy recommendations that refer to it. In other words, demanding companies’ fair share of taxes conflicts with means-end approaches that refer to mainstream economic theory. Because of this, we have to ask whether we have reasons to demand a fair share of taxes from companies from the perspective of alternative economic approaches. Furthermore, we have to analyze if the fair share of tax is a realizable norm.