Transparency, Tax and Human Rights

26 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018

See all articles by Miranda Stewart

Miranda Stewart

University of Melbourne - Law School; Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

Date Written: May 15, 2018


Transparency has attracted unprecedented attention in national and global debates about taxation in recent years. It has been adopted as a goal by international organizations, governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), academic commentators, media and citizens across the political spectrum. There has been a particular focus on transparency to enforce taxation of multinational enterprises and high wealth individuals, with a specific goal of addressing avoidance and evasion in tax havens. The pursuit of transparency in taxation is consistent with broader trends, as John Braithwaite and Peter Drahos observed nearly two decades ago that transparency was the "most" striking emergent principleā€ in global regulation. However, who is transparent, concerning what data, process, or outcomes, why transparency is the goal and how it is intended to achieve the stated regulatory outcome, differ depending on the context. The paper explores the meaning and uses of transparency in a fiscal context, where it started as transparency of governments and budgets to the people, but more recently has shifted to focus on the transparency of taxpayers to governments, between governments, and even to the public. The paper asks, what does tax transparency achieve, when is it justified, how does it serve human rights and what are its costs?

Keywords: tax transparency

JEL Classification: K00, K34

Suggested Citation

Stewart, Miranda, Transparency, Tax and Human Rights (May 15, 2018). U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 774, Available at SSRN: or

Miranda Stewart (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

Melbourne, Victoria 3010
+61 3 8344 6544 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

7 Liversidge Street
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, ACT 0200

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