Symposium on Peter Dietsch’s book 'Catching Capital: The Ethics of Tax Competition'

Event sponsored by Society for Applied Philosophy

Symposium on Peter Dietsch’s book “Catching Capital: The Ethics of Tax Competition,” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

The book explores normative issues related to tax competition amongst states and proposes solutions to the problems that arise from it. The book is animated by a concern with the mismatch between international capital mobility and national political regulation and its impact on the pursuit of social justice. Fiscal self-determination, in turn, is defined as the ability of polities to democratically choose the level of revenues and government expenditures relative to GDP, as well as the level of redistribution of income and wealth.

The basic challenge of this book is to identify objectionable forms of tax competition and what institutions may legitimately and effectively prevent them. Dietsch identifies three kinds of tax competition that are problematic from this point of view. First, states compete for foreign direct investment, which involves relocation of real economic activity. Second, there is competition for portfolio capital in order to avoid paying capital gains tax. Third, states also compete for the profits of multinational enterprises. With recourse to methods such as manipulative transfer pricing schemes, multinationals shift profits from high to low tax-rate jurisdictions.

Peter Dietsch’s proposals include the establishment of an International Tax Organization (ITO), the purpose of which is to institutionalize his two principles for the regulation of tax competition. The membership principle claims that persons (both natural and legal) should pay tax in the state where they are a member. The fiscal policy constraint is more complex and according to it any fiscal policy of a state is unjust and should be prohibited if it is both strategically motivated and has a negative impact on the aggregate fiscal self-determination of other states.

14.00 – 14.45 Presentation by Peter Dietsch (CRÉ – Montréal)

14.45 – 15-05 Comments by Pedro Silva (UPF)

15.05 – 15.10 Reply by Peter Dietsch

15.10 – 15.30 Comments by Laura Seelkopf (EUI)

15.30 – 15.35 Reply by Peter Dietsch

15.35 – 15.55 Comments by Juri Viehoff (Centre for Ethics, Zurich)

15.55 – 16.00 Reply by Peter Dietsch

16.00 – 17.15 General Discussion


Proposed days: between 2-6 2018

Venue: Pompeu Fabra University, Law Department

Convenors: Paula Casal, Pedro Silva, and Josep Ferret

Address: Law Department. Carrer Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27. 08005. Barcelona

Phone: (+34)696931332

Email address:

2. Workshop funding

The workshop is funded by the Society for Applied Philosophy, the Justice, Legitimacy, and International Institutions Research Group conducted by Paula Casal and Serena Olsaretti and supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Ref. DER 2016-80471-C2-2-R), and UPF’s Law Department.

The normal expectation is that any papers given at SAP funded events should be submitted in the first instance to the Journal of Applied Philosophy for potential publication. 

UPF can only pay flights in economic class. In case you have your own funds and prefer business class, there is still option to invoice UPF for your fees (contact