Peter A Allard School of Law

Faculty Colloquium Series - The Corporate Income Tax as a Non-Tariff Barrier to Trade

Debates about the corporate income tax (CIT) have grabbed headlines in the last two years for two main reasons: increasingly mobilized public sentiment against multinationals’ tax avoidance, fueled by concerns about rising inequality in some rich countries; and international tax policies’ contribution to trade tensions (also among rich countries.) These developments, however, have rendered ever more obscure the basic rationales for the CIT. This talk presents a radically new perspective on the CIT that deconstructs both popular and mainstream academic discourses. I argue that the international aspects of the CIT have always been deeply intertwined with the trade in services; many depictions about the mobility of capital are about trade in services instead. The CIT serves as a potent trade policy tool, playing the role of a non-tariff barrier (NTB) to trade or as a hidden form of export subsidy. This perspective suggests substantial revisions to existing scholarly analyses of international taxation, as well as two immediate policy implications. First, the CIT is particularly ill-suited for multi-lateral agreements, and other tax instruments are superior from the perspectives of both unilateralism and international coordination. Second, a focus on tax havens and on harmonizing (minimal) CIT rates is unlikely to provide policy guidance in the long term.


Wei Cui teaches tax law and policy, legal theory, and law and economics. 

Before joining the UBC law faculty, he practiced tax law for over 10 years, including as a U.S. tax associate at Simpson Thacher (in both New York and Beijing), as Senior Tax Counsel for the China Investment Corporation, and as a counsel-level consultant for Clifford Chance (Beijing). Professor Cui has held visiting professorships at the law schools of Michigan, Northwestern, Columbia, and Melbourne Universities, among other institutions, and has served as a consultant to the United Nations, the Budgetary Affairs Commission of China’s National People’s Congress, and China’s Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation. 

As an academic, Professor Cui has authored over 80 academic and professional articles and is a co-author of Value Added Tax: A Comparative Approach. He research takes an interdisciplinary approach to topics in international taxation, tax administration, and law and politics in China. He is currently writing a book about the foundations of China's modern fiscal state. His research has been supported, most recently, by a SSHRC Insight Grant.

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