This week, I joined the FACT Coalition as Policy Director. After nearly a decade practicing sophisticated tax and corporate law at international law firms and acting as Vice President for a multi-billion-dollar energy enterprise, it was time for me to make a choice—please, allow me to explain:
I believe that tax and corporate law are fundamental institutions of our democracy. How, who, what, when, and why we tax are fundamentally tied to questions of racial, economic, political, international, and generational justice. Corporate law that encourages transparent, sustainable capital investment can be the basis of a democracy rooted in equality of opportunity; in contrast, poorly designed corporate laws can lead to or exacerbate corruption and abuse of labor, shared resources, and the body politic. In other words, our tax and corporate law systems can either reflect and further the democratic ideals that we want to see flourish at home and abroad, or it can undermine them.
With the expertise I’ve developed, it was hard to watch patently unfair tax systems, multinational corporate tax avoidance, illicit financial flows, and corruption all rob developing and developed countries of the resources they need to fund social services, fight inequality, and combat climate change. Tax injustice and large-scale corruption undermine our tax system and the promise of our open markets. This contributes to the recent global erosion in public trust for democratic governments, leading to dire consequences. I could either continue to comfortably ignore these problems, or do something about it. So, this week I am choosing to put my beliefs into practice. I am choosing to help further the meaningful work that the FACT Coalition is doing to promote a fairer global tax system and to put an end to corruption. It is a privilege to leverage my prior experience (as well as my continual appetite for learning) to be able to do work that buoys my beliefs.
I’m starting work during a busy week. A second multinational corporation-made billionaire is headed to space for no apparent scientific reason. At the same time, members of Congress claim to be struggling—straight-faced—with how to fund necessary investments relating to pandemic recovery, persistent inequality (highlighted by our newest “astronauts”), and climate change. Yet, this week the world is also continuing to negotiate in earnest toward global tax reform that could help to end abuse of tax-havens that perpetuate and exacerbate global inequality and corruption. All of these events are inextricably linked.
The 2017 tax reform that maintained and exacerbated incentives for multinational corporations to engage in tax-avoidance by shifting factories, jobs and paper profits to tax-havens has disproportionately benefitted primarily wealthy shareholders. This has left domestic businesses and American workers, unable to take advantage of similar tax-planning strategies, to shoulder investments necessary to support an equitable domestic recovery from pandemic and from years of neglecting our hard and human infrastructure. I witnessed these effects first-hand in practice and in industry.
In spite of these facts—or, perhaps because of them—global and federal tax reform that can help to alleviate these glaring problems is within reach. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has proposed a framework for a two-pillar solution that can help to create a fairer global tax system. Nonetheless, work remains through October and beyond to ensure, among other things, that the OECD framework incorporates the maximum minimum global tax rate possible.
Global tax reform is only made possible when the U.S. acts as a leader in global tax reform efforts, though. Due to the size and importance of the U.S. economy, it is fundamental that U.S. policies and practices contribute to global solutions. Indeed, it should come as no surprise that current proposals from the Biden administration or in Congress (such as with respect to the framework proposed by the Senate Finance Committee or the No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act: H.R. 1785)—that can help to remove incentives to engage in tax-avoidance strategies by domestic and international multinational corporations—have led to reinvigorated global tax reform efforts. Critically, these proposed reforms will also help to more equitably fund necessary investments in our communities.
The FACT Coalition’s work—whether in championing and helping to improve these federal and global tax reforms, or in advocating for other critical reforms with respect to tax transparency, beneficial ownership reporting, and anti-corruption efforts—sits at the nexus between domestic and international progress. Representing a broad, non-partisan coalition of more than 100 state, national, and international organizations, the FACT Coalition promotes transparency and fairness in tax and corporate law in a way that is necessary to promote democratic and open societies. Its work simultaneously impacts our (and therefore, my family’s) local and global communities—helping to ensure that these communities have the necessary resources to face our biggest collective challenges. Because I believe in tax justice, corporate transparency, and democratic and open societies, I believe in the work that the FACT Coalition is doing. I am humbled and excited to bring my years of experience to the FACT Coalition to help build on its proud track record of success and to take advantage of the huge opportunities for breakthrough policy change today, tomorrow, and going forward.