The Historical Origins and Current Prospects of the Multilateral Tax Convention

This article has three aims. First, it surveys the pre-BEPS efforts to create a multilateral tax convention (MTC) from the 19th century onward, and explains why these efforts have failed, leading to an international tax regime dominated by unilateralism and bilateralism. Second, it contrasts the success of multilateralism in investment and trade law. Third, it examines the BEPS era efforts to create an MTC and suggests that, while there has been more convergence of the tax laws of countries, a fundamental divergence of interests persists that will likely doom any such efforts to failure. The article concludes that, at this time, tax law still remains unsuitable to multilateralism, in contrast to investment and trade law, mainly due to the monetary impact.