Tax Evasion, Corruption and the Distortion of Justice

Lorenzo Pasculli (Editor), Costantino Grasso (Editor), Diane Ring (Editor), Brandon Garrett (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


1.1. Introduction

Recent scandals such as FinCEN Files (2020), the Paradise Papers (2017), the Panama Papers (2016), SwissLeaks (2015), and LuxLeaks (2014) suggest the existence of a profound interconnection between corrupt practices and tax evasion, as well as some forms of aggressive tax avoidance. In the last two decades, research has made considerable progress in advancing our understanding of the interconnections between different forms of financial crimes. However, except for some limited literature, the relationship between tax crimes and corruption is largely understudied and prompts many unanswered questions. Such issues encompass not only conceptualization and definitional efforts but also include the exploration of how the combination of these two criminal phenomena interferes with the activities of public and private institutions and affects society, generating a distortion of justice.

We propose a Symposium edition (paper only) of Law and Contemporary Problems (L&CP), which aims at exploring such intimate interconnections and addressing the identified gaps in the contemporary literature. The relationships between tax crimes and corruption have complex social, economic, political, and legal origins and implications. In analyzing how these criminal phenomena adversely affect society, the Symposium will adopt a broad conception of justice, based on John Rawls’ idea of fairness in liberal societies. Reflective of the complexity of the matter, the proposed Symposium will not approach the research questions simply from the perspective of various interpretations and lenses of legality (e.g., criminal law, criminal justice, tax law, business law), but will adopt a multidisciplinary approach relying on the contribution of experts with different backgrounds and expertise in order to more comprehensively encapsulate and contextualize these dynamic and far-ranging issues. Through the integration of the legal perspectives with the socio-economic, criminological, ethical, and political ones, the study will generate innovative research findings and stimulate further discussion on such critical issues. Even where focused on a specific jurisdiction, the findings of the articles will be relevant within a global context, given the identified concerns, interdependencies, and responsive approaches bear on universal themes.

In particular, the Symposium will explore the phenomenological manifestations of tax offenses and corruption from these different perspectives so as to allow a critical analysis of the applicable legal frameworks, and identify the existing deficiencies in the enforcement strategies. This approach will support the identification of relevant forms of corrupt practices as they apply to tax offences, the interdependencies between these behaviors, and the nexus at which they meet. Such an analysis enhances the awareness of the ways in which corruption and tax crimes intersect, with the aim of inspiring further research and the development of innovative solutions to dealing with such criminal phenomena. Some examples of the research questions that the articles included in the Symposium will address are:
• Exploring the mutual relationship between the socio-economic, criminological, political, and legal constructs of tax crime and corruption.
• Analyzing the practical differences and similarities of tax evasion and corruption criminal schemes.
• Investigating the socio-economic, criminological, and political antecedents and consequences of tax crime and corrupt practices.
• Evaluating the opportunity to develop a phenomenological and/or legal definition of “fiscal corruption”, which combines the elements of both tax evasion and corruption-related offenses.
• Analyzing the national and supranational responses to tax crime and corruption as well as their interconnections.
• Identifying the major shortcomings of the existing legal and institutional approaches at a national and international level.
• Exploring the role of private entities and public-private partnerships in countering tax evasion and corrupt practices.

In order to achieve such research objectives, the Symposium will also rely on the original findings of the ongoing research project VIRTEU ‘Vat fraud: Interdisciplinary Research on Tax Crimes in the European Union’ funded by the European Commission.

1.2. Original Approach

Despite its clear relevance, the systematic exploration of the intersections between tax crimes and corruption remains a significant academically underexplored, and unaddressed, phenomenon. There is, of course, a wealth of literature on corruption, as well as on tax crime, but the vast majority of the works focus on those criminal phenomena separately without the adoption of an integrated approach and do not consider the nexus at which they meet. There have been some preliminary attempts to identify the links between tax crimes and corruption, including an extremely limited number of articles addressing specific issues (e.g., Cerqueti, R. and Coppier, R. (2015) ‘Corruptibility and tax evasion’, European Journal of Law and Economics 39(2), 355-373), and there have been some pioneering events focusing on the connections between tax crimes and corruption, such as the international events on “Tax and Corruption” held in Australia and South Africa in 2017, whose proceedings are collected in Evans, C. (ed.) (2017) “Special Edition: Tax and Corruption,” eJournal of Tax Research 15(2), 140-383. However, to our knowledge, there is no study offering both an empirical and theoretical analysis of the intersections between tax crimes and corruption, especially from a criminological and criminal law perspective, such as that currently conducted under the project VIRTEU, which will be presented in the papers of the proposed Symposium. Such an issue will offer therefore a unique and innovative contribution to the current academic knowledge on the subject, laying the academic foundations to identify and contemporize the issues, and providing opportunities for the symposium to act as a springboard directing future research and discussion in the relevant fields.

1.3. Significance

From a theoretical point of view, the papers of the proposed Symposium will provide original and groundbreaking empirical knowledge and theoretical categories and provide explanations which can serve as the basis for the elaboration of future theories. It is envisaged that the proposed L&CP issue will contribute to the debate on the problem leading to the identification of the most burning issues that are relevant within such an emerging field of research.

Taking into consideration that tax crimes and corruption cause immense social harm, and undermine the rule of law and democracy, the research outcomes included in the proposed Symposium will contribute to identifying relevant solutions for policymakers, authorities, and legal entities around the world to improve the quality and effectiveness of their responses.

Moreover, the papers will aim at raising awareness and improving the public understanding of the complex interrelations between tax crimes and corruption so as to produce social benefits, such as heightened perception of tax offenses as harmful and, therefore, unacceptable, greater support for anti-tax crime and anti-corruption policies, and improved ability to recognize corrupt practices also in the area of taxation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLaw and Contemporary Problems
Publication statusIn preparation - 2022


  • Tax crime
  • Corruption
  • Justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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