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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2011

2 - The jurisdiction to tax


The basic obligation of community members to fund their government was noted at 1.1. It was also noted that the fundamental justification for a government levying taxes on their community members is the services provided by the government to community members. This is inherent in the concept of responsible government. However, each community is only one member of a larger community, the community of nations. As members of various communities are mobile and may receive services from governments other than their own, the issue arises as to who are the persons from which a particular government may appropriately extract taxes. In other words, on whom does the obligation to fund a particular government fall? This issue is traditionally analysed according to the doctrine of economic allegiance.

The doctrine of economic allegiance suggests that those who benefit from government services are obliged to fund the government. Put another way, a particular government has no justification, no jurisdiction to tax unless there is an appropriate connecting factor, i.e. a recognised basis of economic allegiance. This chapter is structured under two primary headings. The first heading considers which forms of economic allegiance are recognised in international tax law as grounding a jurisdiction to impose income tax. This consideration highlights that a person may simultaneously owe economic allegiance to more than one state, i.e. divided allegiance.

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