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One minute with... David Quentin

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

Right now I am a full-time PhD student and that is keeping me very busy indeed. The purpose of my research is to place the BEPS objective of aligning corporate tax outcomes with ‘value creation’ in the context of formal value theory. Somewhat notoriously, the BEPS outputs maintained a strategic silence as regards the theoretical underpinning of that objective, and I am having lots of fun filling in the blanks. If anyone really wants my tax advice, however, it can still be obtained through Stone King LLP.

If you could make one change to a tax law or practice, what would it be?

I would vest the power to levy tax in respect of corporate profits in a sovereign global body.

As a Marxist tax lawyer would it be fair to say your views are out of step with the rest of the tax profession?

Ha! Well that was someone else’s description of me, but I have adopted it on my Twitter profile in order to keep my work levels down while I focus on my PhD. The tax justice agenda that I am associated with is reformist to its core and I have no doubt Marx would have been utterly contemptuous of it. His views on the state were as libertarian as any you might find in the tax profession.

You’re a supporter of unitary taxation by formulary apportionment. What would you say in answer to its critics?

I agree with some of the criticisms. I think that the boundary of the corporate group imposes a limit on redistribution of the global corporate tax base between jurisdictions which is arbitrary and therefore wrong. A jurisdiction stands to gain from formulary apportionment if a group is using direct control over the relevant entity to suppress profits there, but not if it is using market asymmetries in the nature of monopoly power. I therefore think there should be unitary taxation by formulary apportionment of entire global value chains.

What’s your favourite tax case?

Right now, it’s Golden Horse Shoe v Thurgood (1933) 18 TC 280. The background to the case is that miners generally can’t deduct real property acquisitions, because it is in the nature of mining to convert fixed capital into circulating capital. In Golden Horse Shoe, however, the taxpayer was able to deduct the cost of a real property right because the value of it was referable to the mineral content of another miner’s mine tailings on the land in question. The Revenue sought to treat it as a fixed capital acquisition like an ordinary mineral seam, but it was held to be circulating capital on the basis that the seam to be mined was the product of work by the previous miner, even though from their perspective it was waste product dumped on the land rather than output. It is one of those fun cases which is obviously right but, the longer you think about it, the harder it is to explain why. To my mind, it is revealing of a deep-seated Ricardianism in British tax jurisprudence. Nothing wrong with that, I should add!

Finally, you might not know this about me but…

I have a bass-playing drag alter ego who performs the role of Patricia Morrison in a gender-swapped Sisters of Mercy tribute act. 


Issue: 1386
Categories: One minute with