Casus belli: tax competition is an act of war

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I thought I was being little belligerent last evening when writing about Ireland and wondered whether to post the item (yes, I do suffer moments of doubt, but not many, I admit).

Then I read the FT this morning which notes:

French and German officials are pressing Ireland to increase its low corporate tax rate in return for an aid package, setting the stage for a showdown over a policy long resented by Dublin’s European partners.

French, German and European officials told the Financial Times that the tax rate had emerged as a major point of contention as negotiators from the European Union and International Monetary Fund arrived in Dublin to discuss a potential bail-out.

One European official involved in the talks said that the corporate tax increase would be a casus belli with the Irish, and that Dublin’s strident objections could well keep it out of any final package.

What’s a casus belli? Try this:

Casus belli is a Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. Casus means "incident", "rupture" or indeed "case", while belli means bellic ("of war"). It is usually distinguished from casus foederis, with casus belli being used to refer to offenses or threats directly against a nation, and casus foederis to refer to offenses or threats to another, allied, nation with which the justifying nation is engaged in a mutual defense treaty, such as NATO.

So let’s be clear: states are saying Ireland’s tax rate is an act of war.

It is.

Tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions promote economic warfare.

That’s the truth of the matter. And now it’s out in the open. It won’t go back. The battle lines are drawn.