Volume 44 (2016) / Issue 5
State to state disputes under tax treaties are increasingly open for mandatory arbitration when intergovernmental negotiations do not reach a timely agreement. The present contribution seeks to understand this procedure. It also examines what institutional architecture ensures the best resolution of such disputes. It argues that the current mechanism works fairly well and that, while some incremental improvements seem warranted, arbitration clauses should be adopted more widely in tax treaties concluded by industrialized countries and countries with emerging economies. It then proposes a more ambitious novel approach which would seek a comprehensive solution binding on all parties involved, i.e., on the states and on the taxpayers. By contrast, the article is very sceptical of the potential of investor-state-arbitration for resolving tax treaty disputes. It contends that such arbitration under international investment agreements is incompatible with the structure and the aim of tax treaties. A clause that excludes such arbitration for tax treaty disputes should therefore be inserted in these treaties.
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